Yogaville

satchidananda-ashramBack from my first ever ashram visit – I brought back so much energy that I stayed up last night cleaning the bathroom and the closet!

The ashram I visited was Yogaville which is located in Virginia, a 4 hour drive from here. The area is nice and mountainy but the buildings are not new and not pretty. Clean though. Inside – Hindu aesthetic, with it’s crazy eclecticism: Lord Buddha, Jesus and Mary along Sri Satchidananda, who established the ashram. It’s more of a spiritual venture than a yoga studio.

The crowd is predominantly female, which for me is a nice change after Buddhist centers I’ve been to where the balance tilts towards guys. Of particular interest are the swamis – yoga monastics who wear orange clothing. You do not get many old wise women speaking in public in our culture. And they all have a sense of humor and seem pretty happy too.

To give you a bit of an idea about the daily schedule: there’s a meditation session around 6am (guided option usually available) followed by an Integral yoga class, which is 90 minutes and includes pranayama (and let me tell you: LONG INVERSIONS. I got to practice my headstand). Food is vegetarian and NO COFFEE (which I don’t drink anyway, but most people do). As a guest you get a fail amount of free time to relax without distracting yourself (reading is about the most exciting thing available. I read a whole book and it felt awesome). There’s another meditation session at noon and a yoga class in the afternoon, and an evening talk. They also do a lot of chanting (including kirtan, which I love) and I found it pretty magical. In fact, after this trip I started singing out loud in my car instead of listening to the podcasts. It’s as if something opened in my throat… No kidding!

Aside from the visitors like myself, at the ashram there is a group of long term volunteers, some staff and a large community of people who moved to the area – including families with little kids! – to be a part of the ashram. Walking around in the woods you can come across little houses like this:

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Way to live, if you ask me.  

For me personally the two most valuable personal take away points (aside from the energy and the throat thing, which are actually pretty big too)  where these:

  1. What’s inside me is the same, wherever I go. And that means  darkness and exhaustion. There is no way around it, as far as I can tell, though there are environments in which it’s easier to stand it and others which make it extremely difficult. Yogaville was pretty good in this regard though my stay was too short to know for sure. I can either assume there is something good beneath it (as advertised), or that that’s that (more of my personal experience). I decided to give it another few months of digging before I assume it’s shit all the way down and move on to something else outside of myself.
  2. In one of the swami talks, the idea of gunas (it’s an Ayurvedic term) of the mind was explained: different minds have a tendency to different states: tamasic, ie low vibration, stagnation, don’t feel like doing anything mood, bored, lazy; rajasic – excited, sometimes angry or annoyed, or: man, this is awesome, best thing ever!; and finally sattvic – peaceful blissful equanimity (though I have a hard time believing that anyone is a natural at this…..). The trick is to be aware of this and know what moves your mind from one place to the other. I rarely get anything remotely sattvic, BUT I do go between tamas (hate it!) and rajas AND I have a sense that I cannot hop from the low depressed place to the sunny grounded one, I have to go through the more excited one. Which is useful information, especially that I have a little bit of impact on this – I know what turns me on (and meditation is NOT it!). Now the trick is to be somewhat high on energy and still want to ground… Call it wisdom, call it practice, call it willpower.

What strikes me after coming back home to Charlotte is the amount of NOISE. There is something humming everywhere – the heating, the fans, air purifier, not to mention traffic. I’m  kinda sensitive to noise so it’s hard for me to settle and relax in this environment.

My mind is screaming too. Not that it was quiet at the ashram, but now it’s af if it was trying to outyell all the external noises. Really, sweetheart, chill, I hear you. I know you’re excited. It’s nice. I’m glad you’re not depressed. I’m trying to be kind to it, you see…

Life of the Body

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I found this place on my yoga mat, and now I can sometimes spot it off the mat – the life of the body. From the body’s point of view things are so much simpler – there may be pain, exhaustion, tension. Maybe ungroundedness. But not the story, the narration. Sometimes, in the motion there is only silence.

It feels curious to me – how would it be to live that life? With all that quiet?

The Body-Mind Team

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After a really, really hard week last week, I am experiencing the most positive shift. And the best part of it it that it is partly my doing. I experienced a lot of effort+failure in my life, trying really hard and than not getting it. Why? It’s hard to even look back and think about it, it’s so painful. It was largely body related – my mind is just fine, too active if anything.

Today, while I was in my vinyasa, a coupe of thoughts came to me.

One: I saw that I purposefully scatter my mind.

Two: I thought that I could try to see my body and mind and awareness as a team. I can – I CAN – train them to help each other out instead of crashing each other.

This is my big project now.

I hear that you can become good at anything, if you dedicate yourself to it, and be smart about it (the latter is very important and more commonly overlooked). I came across a couple of awesomely motivating podcast on the matter:

I am not a fan of psychology. I don’t consider it science and it hasn’t helped me in my life. But – though the talks above are psychology based, they make for a good motivational material.

As far as the body-mind issue goes: the challenge I see know is to combine will and openness. It’s funny, because my sister and I pretty much personify each of them: I lack will but am super sensitive, she is very mid driven, and I mean driven. If she decides something needs to happen, it will.

This past weekend I gave will a shot – I willed myself on the mat when I was feeling terrible and physically exhausted. OK, there was a strong element of prayer there, but not of grace up until afterwards. The rewards were stunning. So I figured immediately that I can will myself into more of what I want to be able to do but don’t feel I’m there yet. I quickly noticed, that although in the short term I can do the things I thought I cannot do, I hardly even experience them, because 100% of my awareness I goes into the act of willpower.

Hm. Sounds like I forgot to pray….

 

February 10th, 2017

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Hello All,

I am B, and I am taking over this blog since my sister got too preoccupied with neurobiology studies.  If you were coming here for personal gossip, you can delete the bookmark, because there won’t be any from this post on. As the last goodbye tit-bit: you should know that I moved in with my Sis and her lovely housemates. And that she’s cool with that, though for now she isn’t OK with my boyfriend coming over (the guy has some issues, but I love him anyway).

OK now, let’s get down to yoga. One day last week I woke up around 5am and couldn’t go back to sleep and decided to run to a 6am class. I used to go to the gym before work and it made my days much better, up until my body run out of energy  and I had to stop that. Still, morning exercise didn’t seem unreasonable, and it turns out dozens of people in Charlotte do it. 

So I went and got hooked. 

This morning it took Hamilton the musical to get me up and running, but I sure don’t regret getting out before 5.30am. I did a power class, in which the teacher chose to stand behind me an assist me during chair pose. If she wasn’t commenting out loud – with all the best intentions – I would have dropped out. I would have dropped out multiple times. I was shaking, my thighs were burning. But because of her I stayed with it – pure shame perhaps. The release I felt afterwards was quite something. I wanted to stay for another class but my mind was telling me that my muscles need to regenerate and they were already hurting in first class. But I wanted to stay. I felt so into it. And I did. And you know what? I did. And it was awesome, awesome day, I see so much good.

I get a vague sense that this has to do with tapas. 

I can do more than I think. They say that, but I never heard it because MY “i can’t” is for reals… 

Another thing I started noticing is the issue of choice. In the recent days there were moments when I COULD sooth myself with just my breath and I wasn’t choosing to do so – I wanted food – regular food and thought food. Up until this morning, when I came home all high after the double yoga, and one of our housemates was vomiting and miserable. I offered him some “amateur reiki” and I just had to let go of my self-thoughts to do it. I did a fair amount of shaking during the session. 

January 28th, 2017

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She’s still tired a lot. And we rub against each other – at times scarily, threatening a split. And then we make up.

I told her about this blog after our last argument. I invited her to join. She cautiously accepted, said she would try.

Today a got a piece from her:

The weight on my shoulders,  vigilance in blocks. It rests on a tangled thick wire which  goes down to my pelvis – quite stable, still quite okay that triangle of pelvis. Good for dancing, for bearing weight. Yet right above it is the big  dark swamp of my belly – so vast and soft I don’t even look. I know I will need to. I know there are fishes there. Fishes of bending my head to avoid friction,  and above all – fishes of craving comfort.

Trust.

 

January 21st, 2017

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I’m sitting on my bed with a cat by mi side. I feel happy.

B and I talked a lot in the recent few days. We talked about love, and mirrors, and food. And death. We don’t know what to do about it. At this point it’s – do our best and hope for the best. And we both know it will reap us apart. But actually, when I have dreams about dying, it’s very peaceful. So maybe that’s how it will really be?

Anyway. B is in love. It scares me because she’s so emotional and not very reasonable. It turns out that I am not the only reason why she came to the US. I feel ashamed that I thought I was. I’ll try to keep her safe.

I started heaving very motherly feelings towards her, though she is slightly older than I am.

I’m concerned about her health. Hence – I asked her about food.

B:…

Me: Don’t be afraid.

B: I am. I am terrified.

Me: See, but you don’t have to be.

B: Really? That is NOT my experience.

Me: Listen, you have nothing to lose. I mean, what is your alternative Honey?

B: Maybe the things that worked before will work again?

Me: I doubt it. They are what brought you here in the first place.

B: I know.

Me: I’ll be with you. See, this is what’s different now.

B: OK, but you’ll be with me?

Me: Yes, but you have to be committed to this too. I mean, specifically, you can’t just blindly fly after guys. Don’t get me wrong. You can be with whomever, as long as they treat you well and this has to come first.

B: Mhm.

Me: Let’s do it.

 

January 18th, 2017

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Hey there.

Something interesting happened today. I woke up this morning after some scary dreams that I don’t even remember (didn’t really want to remember), stressed out and afraid – I mean, intensely so. And it was about B. About her health, about her immigration status (she doesn’t have a green card). The night before B was feeling sick wouldn’t even talk to me. The anxiety persisted throughout the day.

We met in the evening for yoga and she was doing better than ever. We talk a walk in the park afterwards and I could feel my heart shaking.

Yes, we did buy the EXPENSIVE membership passes. I wonder if I should cancel my gym pass.

January 17th, 2017

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Just came back from the morning yoga. B and I used up all the cheap trial sessions together and now we need to decide if we want to commit. I’m fairly sure we do.

It’s all going fast and surprisingly well. I mean, things are what they are. She is clearly really unhappy, and  I can now see that her aggressive invasion into my life is a way of asking for help. I don’t think she has anyone else to ask.  I’m scared of her, but I also feel sorry for her.

Anyways, I texted her last morning and we had a pleasant over-the-text chat, which lifted up my day.

So, to go a little deeper – Why did I abandon B? Why did B cling to mom? She sounds as if she had no choice. And I was just trying to save my butt. Well, I guess it’s time to leave that all behind and start anew.

Somewhere inside I know she has something – the depth of feeling – that my life is lacking.

Rainy and gloomy here, but at least warm.

Just to think out loud a bit more – people just don’t have their shit together. I see it all over. I see it with B, how she’e making herself miserable. I want to be different.

Hey, did you know this is the official be happy week?

January 15th, 2017

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So we did yoga last evening. It was sweaty, and with sad music. Not very hard physically, though. Afterwards we got ourselves seltzer and chatted a bit. Somehow it felt less heavy and needy on her part. Maybe this is why I felt really terrible  – read NOT numb, but emotional and BAD. Like – at a loss, and everything from the past right in my face. I even said to to her – ‘B, why?’ But she just gave the same stare.

‘You can’t run away you know’.

And I knew I couldn’t. Because I did it once and I am sure she would follow, so it’s not even worth a bother.

‘We have to figure it out some other way then,’ I said.

‘I’m waiting’ she said, and I kinda felt she was right. Like – I abandoned her and moved out all these years ago, and now it was on me to make it up.

Her voice sounded hostile, though.

I went home and read Winnie-the-Pooh and it helped. And I actually woke up feeling fine this morning. A little tired with drama, but fine.

We’re doing yoga again tomorrow evening.

I wonder if hot yoga is actually good for you. Even my shins sweat when I do it. If anyone knows anything about it, pass it on, OK?

January 12th, 2017

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We met for dinner — no comments…

We are supposed to go to yoga this weekend ALSO. 

I’m doing this because I am actually concerned about her. She spoke less this time. She is definitely very down. It seems to be karmic – it’s like seeing my mom all over again. I even mentioned to her that she reminds me of mom a lot and she just stared at me and said “so?”.

And this is why our paths parted…

Anyways, one way or another, I hope she can make it through a yoga class.