today is the one-week mark since I arrived here at the Himalayan Institute. In some ways, it feels like I just got here; in other ways, I feel like I've been here for a long time.
First, some pictures. The top one is the auditorium, one of the rooms where we gather for workshops and hatha yoga classes. Last night a bunch of us hung out there and watched a movie, Kumaré. Such an interesting movie, I highly recommend it! It's a documentary, created by a filmmaker from New Jersey who set out to show people that they do not need a guru - that most gurus are frauds - that everything anyone needs to know is inside them already. To do this, he grew his hair and beard long, took on the character of a guru from India, and gathered a following of people who thought he was a brilliant, life-changing guru. He created his own yoga poses, his own meditations, his own philosophies, and people flocked to him. Or at least to the image he'd created. it is a really powerful film. very funny in parts, very sad in parts.
So for the past week, it's been busy! I've been adjusting to life here. I'm much more tired than I anticipated. I imagine it's due to adjusting to a new schedule, a new way of eating, a new rhythm, a new community. Our days are quite busy, Monday to Friday, with a lot of cleaning, veggie prep, learning, and activity. Today I had a rest day - no hatha classes, just naps and strolls around the property:
This morning we met Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, who is the Head of the Himalayan Institute. He came from India in 1979, I believe. He is this brilliant man, with 2 PhDs, who has travelled the world, met and worked with political and spiritual world leaders, who is the most down to earth, jolly, joyful little man I have ever met. He is very wise, very knowledgeable, about philosophy, history, politics, religions, and really, any topic you could care to get into conversation with him about. And he seems to be very loving, very kind, such a warm gentle spirit. It was lovely to learn from him this morning, about the importance of health, wellness, the importance of learning about ourselves, drawing inward, beginning to listen to our own wisdom. He said that even as we become aware, even as we pay attention to what is happening in our bodies, in our minds, in our spiritual lives, healing and wholeness can begin to develop. It can be that simple. Of course, that requires that we slow down enough to listen. To pay attention. To be aware. But in the very act of listening and paying attention, we cultivate healing, happiness, wellness. To pay attention to our breathing. To pay attention to how our body is feeling. To notice what is happening in our emotional state. By doing these things, we are showing compassion to ourselves. We are showing love to ourselves. And healing occurs. Not so tricky, not so complicated.
Every afternoon we prepare veggies. You can't imagine how many veggies 100 people consume in a vegetarian centre!! this weekend we'll also have about 50 people here for a conference. That's a whole lotta carrots, kale, beets, onions, bok choy, yams and celery!!! Yesterday I was on onion duty. 11 of us gather in the dining room and spread out on the tables to chop side by side, but onions are isolated from the group - I was banished to onion island. and chopped about 90 cups of onions. That smell may be on my hands for the next year or two. We also cut about 70 cups of beets, and the dining room looked like a slaughterhouse after we were finished. But have you ever noticed how beautiful beets are? when you cut them, the colour is so rich and stunning, and there are these beautiful rings inside. Hmm. This mindfulness practice has something to it. As we do our veggie prep, we're asked to stay mindful - to be aware of our breathing, to be aware of how we feel, to be aware of how our body feels, to be aware of what we're talking about. And I have to say, though it might sound a little cheesy, as I pay attention, I start to notice how beautiful food is! I start to notice when my breath is getting shallow and I'm feeling annoyed with the person beside me. I start to notice when I'm not thinking about what I'm doing and I get close to cutting my finger. I notice how amazing fresh kale and fresh cucs and fresh collard greens (what!!?!??! yes, they're big down here!!) smell, so clean and fresh and delicious. I have to say, it's only been a week, but I haven't missed meat at all, not with all this amazing organic delicious food! I think I could very easily be a hard-core vegetarian, if I had a team preparing my meals for me every day:)
so. week 1 done. loving the food. loving the learning. loving the surroundings. missing home, my friends and family and cats and apartment. craving lots of alone time, and having the space and freedom to take it. lots of thinking, journaling, questioning, processing. resting, adjusting, watching, observing. yep, i'm still digging it;)