So it’s been a while since my last update. A lot has happened here at the ashram in that time.

Let me use this entry though, not to go through the daily activities of my journey but to talk about some realizations I’ve had since being here.

In the beginning, it was all new and exciting. At first I couldn’t believe I was really here, then it sunk in and I was excited to really dive into my yogic journey. As the past few weeks have gone by, I have had very challenging moments and well as challenging days – and also very beautiful moments and days as well.

We are at the end of a week long symposium where very special guests have come to the ashram to give spiritual talks. Thus far I have heard Adhi Moonien Two Owls speak of Mother Earth and the interconnectedness of everything; Tenzin Palmo, a Buddhist monk and nun from India who talked about meditation and the quieting of the mind; Kabir speaking of Rumi and Suffism; Professor Nathan Katz who spoke of Islam; Stephane Vaillancourt who spoke to us about Christianity; and lastly, having the beautiful Kirtan singer Karnamrita Dasi here for new years eve and new years day performances. Each of these teachers taught me beautiful things. I was especially drawn to Karnamrita as we got along instantly and shared stories with each other as we prepared meals and chai tea.

Here is a link to one of her amazing performances:

I have also made some friends here… Some who have already gone and some who just arrived. I’ve been most captivated by a man I met who was in the North Tower of the Twin Towers wen 9/11 hit. He has some amazing stories to tell. He also survived a bad bus accident in Morocco in the mid-1980’s. I told him I was afraid to sit near him as I was sure that if an asteroid were to come down, it would only hit me and leave him unharmed! This is how his life story has been written to date.

Here are some of my lessons so far:

• To have purity of thoughts, speech and deed. Thoughts have energy and can affect others around you as well as yourself.

• Nature is perfect even in the smallest of scales. I sat after meditation on the beach one morning and picked up the tiniest sea shell I’ve ever seen. It was perfectly crafted by the sea and I was struck by its perfection. It was about 3mm small.

• My greatest challenge so far has been on of contentment- of santosha. Simply being grateful for what I have now, who I am now and where I am now. I miss my partner back home a lot and being here is challenging in many regards and it has been easy to justify to myself 8,000 reasons to go home. But as my friend said to me a few days ago “stop planning exit strategies for yourself and just BE here. You came here for a reason” Well said. He also shared with me that I am not alone in my struggles here. With this contentment comes patience as well.

• The days are long here and the food isn’t great. In fact I eat healthier at home. I had about 3 days after Christmas of feeling very down and uninspired and unmotivated. That rut I was in was gracefully interrupted by Karnamritas arrival and presence. She has beautiful energy and is so full of life. I am so grateful to have spent a few days with her.

• Another friend of mine here was going through a few days of worrying so much of the future, so much so that he was missing the NOW. So let us be here now. Most of the worries we have in our minds never come true anyway and much of it is wasted energy. He was worried about what would happen after something that had not even happened yet and he realized how ridiculous it was! I laughed because I too, have done the same thing.

• That some people coming here (and in all of life) have some really HEAVY stuff going on in their lives. People come here to grieve sometimes, as I heard one woman’s story who just lost her 20-something son to suicide late in 2011. I can’t even begin to imagine her pain. So there are those beautiful souls grieving- which is very healthy.

• There are also other people here with very dark energy and one of my lessons is to allow their energy to be theirs and mine to be mine. To have compassion and understanding but to also be grounded and centered within myself. I have allowed a few people to affect me a bit and it’s within my control to not allow that to happen. I have witnessed some very toxic and dark energy from afar as well and I think I’ll keep my distance. 🙂

• Another lesson I’ve learned is that nothing will ever be perfect. I had a long morning one day working to serve breakfast and just wanted to go out and eat my own (then cold) breakfast at the edge of one of the docks here. It was sunny, the water was beautiful and I just wanted some space. As I walked to the dock, I realized that where I wanted to sit was all covered in bird shit. And so it was, that I laughed about it, brushed some of it away and sat amongst a bit of the shit to enjoy my food and the scenery. Just like my stay at the ashram – “come for some greatness, but not without a serving of crap on the side too.” Lol. And I think many situations in life is like this- where the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” came from or, “nothing in life comes without a price”.

• I have come to see that it’s all about perspective and again, having contentment with your situation. I could choose to focus on all the hard stuff, or I can choose to look at all the beautiful gifts I’ve been given, even through the challenges. It’s all about perspective and what you CHOOSE to focus on. We could all mope all day long because life is hard – we ALL have our stories. Instead, learn to process the hard stuff, learn lessons, be grateful, share the love and choose to live an awesome life! We are all eventually going to lose everything we have anyway. Everything in life is impermanent (at least in the physical world we know). So we can let go of attaching ourselves to things or people. We can let go of attaching out identities to our physical bodies, to our careers, activities, thoughts that pass, people we associate ourselves with. Ultimately we are all the same at the core, and all anyone wants is love. It’s alllll about love 🙂

So let us spread the love by loving ourselves first, which I think comes partially from forgiveness of oneself. Also having compassion for your self. And then we can go forth through life with endless love for all things. This, in my mind would be a life of bliss, to love everything and to have the strength of spirit to have endless love even through difficult times.

• The sea also taught me a lesson as I stared at it with soft eyes one afternoon. It’s just one wave after another. Just like the phases of life. It’s endless and it’s beautiful. So let’s ride the waves ~

Om Namah Sivaya ~

Much light and love,
– Tara 🙂20120104-175022.jpg