Sunday night before I left I spent the entire night packing my life into 3 bags.

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My flight was Monday, December 12 at 6:10am and Mom drove me to the airport for the flight. We left the house at 4:15am and arrived at the airport about an hour and 40 mins before my flight. I almost didn’t make my flight as the lineup for U.S. immigration was absolutely massive! Standing and waiting in that stagnant line by myself, I started getting butterflies in my stomach that I would miss my flight to New Jersey. I asked the woman in front of me if she was also on the 6:10am flight and she said no, that she was on the 6:55am flight. She offered to let me go I front of her in line as I told her I was starting to really worry. She was very friendly and was on her way to Thailand for a year after quitting her job! Very cool. I’m so grateful that she let me in front as I only made my flight with 7 minutes to spare! Thank god I made that flight. We took off in a very small aircraft and I fell asleep after watching my last Canadian sunrise until March. Wait, that’s a lie- I’m never up early enough to catch sunrise, I don’t know what I’m talking about 😉

I watched the burning red horizon line grow brighter and stronger as we took off, as daylight began to pour into the city. I watched the lights in early morning Ottawa fade away slowly and grow ever smaller and smaller as we lifted into he dark sky above.

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Sleeping for an hour on that flight was much needed and not hard to do since I had not slept Sunday night at all. Those who know me know that I love my 8-10 hrs of sleep every night 😉 Once I arrived in New Jersey I had a short 1.25 hr layover for my flight into Nassau. The NJ airport was a bit strange and I had to take a ghetto shuttle bus over to Terminal C to catch my flight. I had a first class seat for this flight which was awesome. They served us a large egg breakfast meal which was very well received by my tummy and I fell asleep again on this flight after eating the better-than-expected airplane food. Although, I did NOT eat the mystery meat patty that was on top of my eggs lol. I woke from my nap as we began our descent into Nassau. I opened my window to see the BEAUTIFUL turquoise-blue waters below, speckled with islands. NOW it hit me, what I was doing. What I had imagined in my mind for 6 months was now materializing. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear looking down on this beautiful planet we live on.

The Nassau airport was so ghetto! I went through security and got approved for 100 days in the country – we actually only get a 90day travel visa for the Bahamas as Canadians. So that went smoothly but then as I began to look for my luggage, no screens said “New Jersey” on them, so I asked an employee and she pointed to the luggage belt that had no one around it and also no bags at all. I was one of the last through security so I began to worry. Five minutes later I found my luggage on a belt that didn’t say my airline or city of origin. This was my first lesson in how things would likely go – island time style, and island “lax” style of doing things. Cool. At least I got my luggage!

I called the ashram to tell them I was on my way so they would send a boat to the dock to meet me and take me across the water to the ashram. The ashram is situated next to the grand Atlantis resort. I got a cool cab driver and immediately upon driving away from the airport I remembered how islanders tend to drive – somewhat erratically compared to American or Canadian standards! He drove on the left side of the road, as they do in the Bahamas since they were a British Colony and actually only got independence in 1978 I believe. BUT what is strange is that about half of the cars have the driver side on the left, not on the right. I also noticed that about half the cars have VERY banged up bumpers lol… I guess that IS what they are meant for!? Lol

So I got to the ashram after driving through downtown Nassau and taking the small boat which was unmarked when it arrived at the dock. The driver of the boat said nothing to us, but I assumed he was from the ashram. This man is just a bit crusty I guess – most everyone else so far has been very friendly.

My first day and a half here I spent setting up my tent and resting. Since i was still only on about 2 hrs sleep, i was eager to sleep very long on Monday night. They let me miss evening satsang so I could sleep. Of course one of the first things i did was I walked down to the beach which was absolutely fantastic! We can eat our meals facing out to the South facing beach as well, which I have done a few times. It’s very soothing and relaxin and beautiful to watch.

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Once my tent was set up, I realized again how this fabric “house” would be my home and place to rest for 3 whole months. I believe the longest I have spent in a tent otherwise has been 5 days maybe? Lol, this will definitely be something to get used to.

Tuesday morning I attended my first satsang, which was so wonderful. I was still a bit tired, especially to wake up at 5:30am.

The reason I came on this journey was to really immerse myself into yoga. The complete yogic lifestyle consists of taking care of the body though proper diet (lacto vegetarian here, which means veggie with dairy), proper exercise (asana class), proper breathing (pranayam) and proper rest (sleep). As well, we work on the mental and spiritual sides of ourselves. We learn to begin to control the mind and the thoughts that we allow to be in the mind. We strive to be free of egoism, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, anger and hatred. We strive to purify the mind through letting go of attachments and desires in life. It is said that attachment and desire are the two catalysts of suffering.

We seek to be filled with gratitude, love, a balanced mind and equal vision. Being non judgmental with ourselves or others is also a part of a purified mind.

Our daily schedule is something like the following:

5:30am Wake to bells
6-6:30am Silent meditation in the temple
6:30-7:30am Satsang (or kirtan) followed by a talk by one of the leaders of the ashram. They talk about the spiritual teachings and writings from Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnudevananda.
7:40am Staff meeting
8am start work or attend morning yoga class
10am Brunch
(work through the mid day)
4pm Afternoon yoga class
6pm Dinner
8pm Evening silent meditation and satsang until 10pm
10:30pm Lights out

As a Karma Yogi here for this advanced program (3-month commitment) we are required to attend the morning and evening satsang as well as work 5-6 hrs a day. We are also to maintain daily yoga practice and also take time to study.

The days here are very packed. That said, I’m ready for bed as I worked more than my share today -Mariann and I were non-stop today from morning satsang until 6:30pm. It was a very long day in the city today… I will write more about this tomorrow.

For now, here’s a list of amaziness and a list of my challenges:

AMAZING THINGS:
– being in The Bahamas
– being surrounded by yogis
– looking out at the beautiful ocean every day
– meeting people from all over the world
– daily satsang is my favorite!
– meeting other Canadians here 🙂
– meeting and talking with the locals who are very friendly!
– exploring Atlantis!
– being on a journey of a lifetime
– realizing a dream I have had for some time now
– snorkeling and seeing all the fishies 🙂
– meeting great spiritual leaders
– making friends in an unknown land
– growing every day from this experience

Challenges so far:
– being surrounded by yogis lol
– sleeping on the floor in a tent with no mattress beneath (my first two days here my back hurt so much and I had a pinched nerve in the back of my left leg, making forward folds very painful)
– being away from the comforts of home
– noise around us at night from passing party boats, fireworks, sirens, etc
– adjusting to the new sleep schedule of waking up at 5:30am. I have already slept through one morning satsang 😦
– keeping the faith in what I am doing here
– having thoughts of not wanting to stay for 3 whole months
– working a lot and finding the time to do my daily asana practice
– dealing with some crusty people here isn’t pleasant
– being a part of a somewhat disorganized and very slowwww organization

Despite the challenges, I am so grateful for where I am right now and I know it’s not going to be an easy journey the whole way through. I have to give myself a few weeks to settle into the rhythm of things and I hope by then things will feel much better.

I thank everyone in my life for all the support- friends, family, yoga students and fellow teachers as well as my many bosses. This would be so much harder without all the support I have received, so with all my heart, I thank you all.

Watch out for Part 3 coming soon 🙂

Much light and love,
Tara

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