Wednesday, 30 October 2013

final hurrah

wow wow, 2 months has flown by. I have now left Pennsylvania and am writing this from my parents' kitchen table.

what a wild time I had. not in the typical sense of wild - ashram living doesn't really support that:) I had wine and meat twice in two months, and my wildest indulgences were the occasional chocolate chip cookie and chocolate bar from the gift shop. So, by wild, I don't mean hedonistically wild. Rather, it was a ride, internally.

So much learning. So much stretching. Lots of rest. Lots of glorious reading and walking and thinking and writing and breathing and loving and time. Time to be mindful, to notice what was going on around me and inside of me. I developed a new appreciation for vegetables in particular, and food in general. The beauty of a beet, the softness of an eggplant, the freshness of celery. It was always so delightful to see all the vegetables we'd chopped and prepared for the whole community, lined up along the buffet table for people to enjoy. There was pure joy and an amazing feeling of fulfillment in seeing the direct expression of our hard work, knowing it would nourish people. I also received an awesome "reprogramming", nutritionally - after 2 months of eating a fresh, live, organic, vegetarian diet, veggies, fruits, whole grains and non-animal proteins, my body feels amazing. Three meals a day, medium breakfast, big lunch, small dinner, and my body is thriving. I have so  much energy, and feel light and fresh and easy in my body. And I want to keep it up - I drive past McD's, which used to be a weakness of mine, and I have zero desire to go in. Now, I realize that might change as the days and weeks go past and I'm bombarded with images and opportunities for junk. But for now, I'm enjoying how my body is reacting to pure good food!!

I met so many amazing people. People from all walks of life - people as young as 21, and as old as 70, there for various reasons and with a multitude of personal stories and journeys, but all there to learn, to grow, to heal, to be part of a community that is focused on health and wellness. As I mentioned in an earlier post, it is not all glory. When people live together, they rub up against each other. Buttons get pushed, issues arise, tempers are lost and friction occurs. But it is acknowledged that that happens, it is accepted as a natural occurrence, and seen as an opportunity to grow, to learn more about oneself, and to discover strategies to deal and live with each other. One thing I learned from my short time in living in this community is that while sometimes another's actions might be the cause of friction, my responsibility is to look inside of me, to see how I am affected, to see what is happening in my mind, my reaction, my perception of the situation, and see if there is something I need to address or breathe through or see differently. I guess it comes back to what I've written throughout my time at the ashram - everything truly can be for my upliftment, every person and every situation can be seen as a gift, as a way for me to understand myself better, learn new strategies, shift my perception, and figure out how I can find peace, regardless of another's actions. Ultimately, can I get to the place of clarity and solidity inside of me, so that no one can take away my peace? Cause, really, they can't... I choose to let it go. I choose to give it away. I choose how I see or perceive things, situations, or people. It is not easy. Holy shit, it is the hardest work I've ever done, no doubt about it. There were times in the past 2 months where I was consumed with rage and anger. Irritation. Hurt and confusion. But I am so grateful that I was in a place where it was understood, and where I was encouraged to go write about it, or talk it out, sit in the meditation room and meditate, go for a strenuous walk up the hill to work it out of my body, or have a good cry if needed. Self-contemplation, drawing inward to look at what's going on in me is NOT EASY!! But I have learned that it brings so much more health and peace and stillness inside of me, eventually, rather than stewing and soaking in the rage, misery, sense of injustice, etc. Because, really, that rage and irritation only hurts me. I've seen it's effects on me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Anyway, that was a big paragraph about the less-pleasant parts of community living. There were also so so many wonderful parts, memories I'm taking with me. Lots of laughter, lots of amazing conversations, some deep lovely friendships that might last a long or a little while, but had such an incredible impact on my life and in my heart. I was often a recipient of great kindness and great generosity.

And, as I've raved about in previous posts, some of my favourite times and memories are from the beauty of nature around the property. I will miss my daily deer sighting:) and my hikes up the hill and around the trails. What a gorgeous place to have a season of rest and healing. I am forever grateful.

My journey is not over. I don't think our journey is ever over. Now I get to come back to my "normal" life, of family, friends, paying bills, etc, but with so many amazing tools, so much more self awareness and self-knowledge, and with beautiful memories. There are things inside of me that have been forever shifted, toward greater wholeness and health, on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual planes. I am so grateful to the teachers, the friends, the spirit and energy of this place, the chefs, the community that welcomed me and supported me on this particular step of my journey:) My heart is filled with so much love and gratitude. And tremendous excitement (and a little bit of nervousness) for how life will unfold now. But one thing I do believe, with all my heart: The Universe, God, Spirit, Love, is benevolent. It is unfolding exactly as it is meant to, and I'm right where I'm meant to be.

I'll leave you, for now, with two of my favourite poems/writings that kept recurring in my life and thoughts and interactions in the past two months:

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks
And now, home. farewell for now, and thank you for reading my ramblings and being with me on this little journey. be well. xo

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