Sunday, September 21, 2008

Here's a Dream

Hello all.
I really should not talk about this dream (but there may be no should and shouldn't in my existence these days) but I am practically bursting at the seams with excitement about the prospect of having a humble yoga studio in Squamish. This has been going on since I came back from the Vipassana... Sonnie had seen this space in a beautiful building on 2nd street, downtown. The landlord was someone he had rented from before and the space had been spotted a couple of years ago. He just knew that I would get the same feeling from it, and I did. It is the special space. I am trying not to get too attached to it already. The picture of the majestic Chief is from one of the windows and behind it is a small blue balcony. It is currently being used as office space and won't be ready till around Christmas. Perfect.
Another reason I am so excited is that I really miss teaching. Not even teaching, but interacting about yoga. Being with yoga. With others.
Teaching has been as much a practice, and a deepening of the practice, than the discipline itself. I have spent hours on my mat lately but it doesn't substitute for the service and the giving. I have set up some workshops for October and it looks like classes are starting to open up and I may have around 4 a week for the fall. Yay!
To pass the time and pay the rent I have been landscaping recently. A good friend and fellow yoga instructor here named Kim Beck passed on the job to me. (She just recently had a BEAUTIFUL and perfect baby boy named Jackson). The first three days on the job I was thinking "Why on earth would anyone ever want to do this??" I came home with my ears ringing from the power tools, no juice to practice my postures, no energy for making dinner and even a little bit of angst.
I decided to give it another week because Kim had done the job to 7 months pregnant so I sucked up my winging and whining and showed up with my gloves on. I recorded Richard Freeman's Matrix philosophy talks onto my ipod, meditated for an hour before work and patiently made it through the days. Of course it got easier and I came home less tired, stronger, and more at ease. The people are wonderful and gardening is an engaging and satisfying job. I just have to laugh at myself at how I reacted to the labour of the first few days... it just goes to show how everything changes and your perception can too!
However, most of my volition is mentally and physically going to go towards building the space for a studio. Sonnie is more than supportive and so is everyone in this community.
The rain has started to fall but it has washed over me a sense of peace and contentment. My home smells like the apple crumble I just baked and my yoga matt and books are warmly welcoming me. Sonnie and I hiked up the Chief in the rain yesterday and it was even more beautiful than in the glaring light of the day. The mist and the sense of quiet enveloped us until we just had to stop for 10 minutes and just listen and observe the magic of the coastal forest.
I already feel like I am home.
In the "incomprehensible, luminous, vibrant, silent, vast emptiness in my heart."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Patiently and Persistently

Sarah we miss you!

Well, I have just started talking again after a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation sit in Merritt, BC. It has been two full days so now I feel like things are back to normal but a little further away from the reality I was experiencing.
There were 25 women and 25 men, segregated at the Dhamma Surabhi Centre. On the evening we got there a gong rung and from that moment until the 11th morning we were to abstain from stealing, harming, taking any intoxicants, speech, eye contact, eating more than fruit after 11 am, physical touch and reading and writing. The schedule started at 4 in the morning to 10 pm at night, lights out. 10 solid hours of seated meditation a day. I never really understood how deafening silence could be until I was at about day 3. Every sound seemed to reverberate through my skull and sternum.
Everything began to amplify.
While laying on my back in the grass during break periods I would just listen and watch as I allowed the spell of the senses to envelop me. There seemed to be a silence underneath all the sounds. A silence that I could actually feel and hear that was in between the sounds. An undercurrent or base level of energy. Paralelled in my meditation practice there seemed to be the same awareness in me that there was a base level of quiet. In between the thoughts, flash backs, memories and emotions. A deep subtle level as I passed through the more gross aspects of my mental process. A silence.
It was so silent that sometimes I just had to look at the people walking around me with their hoods up to see if they were alive or just in between somewhere. Just to see that I wasn't the only one REALLY there. And then we would all go back to work, patiently and persistently trying to quiet and observe our minds and body sensations.
When the gong rung to signify that the silence was to be broken I walked right back into the meditation hall, sat in my spot and closed my eyes. I could hear chatter and introductions through the walls into the courtyard. I wasn't ready yet and didn't want to come out of myself yet. Noticing my attachment to the silence and my aversion to the sound ( Craving and Aversion, the two things in Vipassana meditation that you are advised to let go of and remain equanimous to) I slowly made my way into the sound and the warm eyes. As soon as I started I noticed what a release it is to speak, communicate and relate to people.
I also noticed how valuable a stay of 20 days would be... as 10 days just wasn't long enough.
It seemed like I just broke myself in to the pain of sitting and the difficulty of the amazing aloneness. However, I really missed everything about Sonnie and was almost in tears of gratitude for him when he came to pick me up. I had so much love in me.
I look forward to the next one.
An amazing thing about the yoga practice is that the older I get the more I get excited about getting older. This practice just keeps on opening me up and opening up to me. If one 10 day meditation course feels so illuminating and the confines of my mind and body so fascinating, how incredible will it feel after 10 more years? 10 more years of experience with myself and experience with the world around me.
Sonnie and I were sitting on the balcony last night looking at the majestic Chief and he was commenting on how this life is just a little snapshot of the world through our eyes. Just a blink in the colossal wheel of time.
I feel like it is a pretty good one. With long exposure and natural light.

Friday, September 5, 2008

jungle lullaby

Goodnite friends,

Tonight the jungle will sing me to sleep and tomorrow we shall leave for the river.

For a brief while that will feel like a moment and a lifetime
i'll live
and paddle,
and explore,
myself and this wild world.

I will be with the river, meet it where it is and flow with its' current, become a part of its' ageold story...
and i, hope that its' story will embed itself in my being -
the same way all wild places connect me to something deeper then i can know,
some other dimension beyond written word, but one that i am sure exists.
A reality that is union with all that is,

more stories in a month
ciao amigas et amigos!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Brasil Update...


Brasil is here and now.
As I write i am baking in the midday heat. It is about 44 degrees celsius in the sun.

I arrived after an adventure of a journey that left me humbled by my inability to communicate and amazed by the generosity and kindness people shared to help me make it to my destination. In moments of doubt, I was thankful for the honest smiles and eye contact from people who barely knew me but somehow cared to help...

Since arriving in Brasil I have travelled north from Sao Paulo to Chapada, a small town of about 15 thousand at the height of land between the Pantanel and Amazon river basins. NOLS (the school I'll be working for down here - rents a beautiful oasis here where we are presently preparing to head to the river.

On this property (like most others in Brasil) outside is inside, inside is outside. We all sleep in tents, there are barely doors on the buildings and cold showers outside are the best thing on the mid afternoon plan. It is also the end of the dry season so we have running water for a few hours a day, outside of that time we need to haul water from the well. Amidst a busy schedule of preparing for our expedition daily living here reminds me of the things i often take for granted in the ease of my life.

The oasis also has mango, tangerine, lime, pomegranete and coffee trees - among others i am sure. We pick fruit that is ripe to add to meals. These gorgeuous tropical trees are also the homes for toucans and parrots fly that fly by regularly during the day. Each morning I wake to the songs of the hundreds of birds I don't see but hear and know they are my neighbours - the sounds of this dense tropical forest is another foreign language that will humble and teach me on this journey.

We are here for a few more days finalizing details of the long river trip ahead. I often find that the days leading up to expeditions busier and longer then the travel days themselves - so, needless to say, it will be nice to be paddling....

Beginning Saturday we will drive for two days northwest to the Jurena river...and from there we will paddle 600km through the Amazon to the Transamazonicas Highway. We will not see a single road for the entire journey. We will pass by some indigineous lands and many layers of this diverse jungle ecosystem.

And where really will this journey take me - likely deeper into myself, away from a mind that is so easily cultured by consumerism and productivity towards a playful sense of what it means to be alive, what it means to breath, what it means to be interconnected and live fully in this world. I think??

'What is it you want to do with your one, wild and prescious life??' Mary Oliver