hello! Namaste, in the true Sanskrit yogic greeting! I have now been here a few short days, at my new home at the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. I arrived here Thursday around 5:00, and it's now Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting on a big comfy couch in the middle of a fabulous library full of books about history, philosophy, world religions, health, meditation... heaven on earth for this booky:)
Let me tell you about this place. It was built in 1955, as a Catholic seminary. Priests and nuns lived here (supposedly in separate buildings...) until the 70's. It was then purchased by Swami Rama, the Indian founder of the Himalayan Institute. He'd come from India and founded this yoga and meditation centre in Chicago first, and then discovered this amazing place, with its 400 acres of rolling hills, fields and forest, and moved it all here. The centre itself is in a little valley, but is surrounded on all sides by the mountains, big green rolling mountains.
I live in a little room on my own. It has a bed, desk, dresser, closet and sink: showers and toilets are down the hall. I live in a hallway with women who are residents here - some have been here for a couple years, some closer to 10, and some little ladies who've lived here since the 70's. There is a men's wing too... haven't seen much sneaking from one wing to the other yet... but I'm keeping my eyes open! The dorm hallways are whisper-zones, to promote and protect a meditative atmosphere. Silence is observed throughout the institute every day from 10:00pm-8:00am, and Monday dinner times. There are about 100 people who live here full-time - residents who keep the place running, from running the little café, to running the reception area, to cleaning, cooking, and keeping the grounds beautiful. Some live in the main building, and some live in houses around the property. There is a beautiful garden and orchard that much of the food comes from. There is a full health centre, with a pharmacist, doctor, massage therapist, yoga therapist, chiropractor and nurse. A fully-functioning community for sure. There's a fabulous shop to buy books, yoga clothes, yoga props, chocolate bars and cookies:)
Holy moly, let me tell you about the food. We eat like crazy here. It is all vegetarian, but unbelievably delicious - apparently most people gain weight when they come here. I believe it. Divine salads, bean dishes, pastas... this morning's breakfast was oatmeal pudding - oatmeal with bananas, cooked apples, cinnamon, raisins, and maple syrup, with honey whipped cream (think cool whip consistency) on top. there's homemade bread at every meal, gluten-free options at every meal, lots of fresh fruit and veggies... I will not be wasting away during this time!
I've had it easy so far - on the weekends, there are seminars that we are free to attend, so this weekend I did a yoga class every morning, then sat in on lectures on the dynamics of meditation, taught by this amazing teacher, Rolf Sovik. Ate, went for walks in the sunshine, took naps, visited with the people who are here for a month like I am. There was a lot of down time. Which was a little uncomfortable at first - it's been a while since I had a whole lotta time on my hands to do nothing, with no one to call, nothing particular to do, no agendas or schedules. I found myself scheduling my day. It's a hard habit to break! But I am slowly feeling myself unwind, and enjoying the times now between scheduled things, to lay down, read, take a stroll.
Beginning tomorrow, life gets a little more scheduled, Monday - Friday. We have karma yoga (cleaning, meal prep, hopefully some work outside while it's still gorgeous), yoga classes, meditation, and a class each day with our group, learning from the teachers here about diet, nutrition, meditation, Ayurveda, asana, health, and various other topics I am totally geeked out to learn more about!!
So that is a little glimpse into life here so far. So far, I am digging it. It helps that it's been sunny and glorious since I got here! Though it seems there will be lots to do, life moves at a very slow pace here. It is really great to be able to have time to eat slowly, take a rest after each meal, listen to what the body wants and needs, and have the time to give it what it needs. I am realizing what a toll stress takes on the body, and only when I slow down, do I realize that my body does not work optimally under stress and busyness and fast-paced living. I notice a dramatic difference, in only a few short days. Also, living in beautiful surroundings, being able to wander through so much nature, makes me feel so very happy and peaceful. Ah. so far, so good:)
I think I'll stop for now, because there are a million things I could write about already, learning, thoughts, experiences. I'll save those for another post:)
Be well, peace to you all! xoxoA