Teresa Durga Divadas Schoendorf

Since I have been back in my Brooklyn apartment I have meditated and chanted and done pranayama and asana as a first priority, daily. The responsibility of owning an apartment in a coop in New York City and being on the coop Board can feel very heavy. Before I left Brooklyn last January to live in the ashram I wanted to meditate and chant and do pranayama and asana daily, but I could not. I was not connected. I did not have the inner strength. I did not have the support. I did not feel any power.

In my mind the choice to live in the Bahamas for an extended time was financial and spiritual. I wanted to lower my cost of living–thereby lightening the load in order to be able to deepen my yoga practice. I also wanted to learn how to do service, to understand what it means to do service.

While living in the ashram doing Karma Yoga I realized just how hard it is to do service. I found out in my first Karma Yoga position that doing service can mean giving up control–to someone else who has the power (and the right) to tell you what to do.Yikes! And just how did this person get the power and the right? Because she had given up control to be of service on a larger scale in service of the ashram. No one who lives in the ashram gets paid any money. Everyone from the top down is doing service to keep the ashram running. That means offering satsanga twice daily, offering programs with international lectures and performers year-round, offering accommodations that include two vegetarian meals daily. An ashram is run by people who are doing service as spiritual practice.

I began to understand that doing service meant acting from a place without any thought of personal gain. To “do” not in order to get something like approval or money or favors or goodies. Just to “do” because someone has asked you to “do”. Doing service is about letting go of your own sense of “doership.” It is about “doing” as a part of a spiritual practice, i.e. doing for the the greater good of all. To serve you must rid yourself of all personal preference. It is not about you. It is about what is needed. And when you do this, it is easy. When you stop trying to control and just be with whatever is happening each moment, to the best of your ability, a certain weight falls away. There are no decisions to be made beyond each moment so a lot of thinking subsides. The mind gets quieter. The breath calms. The body becomes more at ease.

Each time I meditate I honor the spiritual initiation I accepted at the ashram. Meditation is in itself an act of surrender. I surrender to each moment to be with whatever is in my own mind,  with loving kindness in every breath–even when the vrittis (thoughts) are running wild!

Power, I am discovering, comes from letting go, from surrendering to what is happening in my life–in each moment. And to having an attitude to be of service to the duties that are being presented. We think we have chosen. Actually, it has all been chosen for us in order to help us awaken to who we really are: eternal existence, knowledge and bliss.

PS The first coop Board meeting of the 2012-13 term went very well. I followed my own directive as the new President and presiding chair to begin with a moment of silence (my heart was pounding in this moment and I had to gather all of my strength to focus on the Om Tryambakam mantra). I facilitated by keeping order and listening to the other members of the Board, only speaking at the end of discussion on each issue. We accomplished what we needed to and ended only 10 minutes over the hour time frame we had established. Jaya! (Victory)

Peace

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