Archives for posts with tag: ashram

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

When I left Brooklyn last January 11th I knew I was taking an incredible journey just by the act of committing to being at Sivananda Yoga Retreat Center for over three months. It turned out to be over four months and now the journey is winding back toward life in Brooklyn.

I say “winding” because the path as I have experienced it in these past months has not exactly followed the original, outward intention I set, to do Karma Yoga for three months. It has followed the intention I held within myself to “re-group and see what appears”. There have been some remarkable appearances.

The Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course was and continues to be life altering on a daily basis for me. Just the aspect of 28 days of such a rigorous discipline of schedule and activity opened the mind to let go of much of the unnecessary. To further connect through the lineage of Swami Sivananda by mantra initiation has brought wisdom and knowledge of the master into my work in Sound Yoga. The openness to the receipt of a new name for myself has given me a support and inner strength through the Hindu Mother Goddess Durga beyond what I could imagine possible.

The Path took me to these places. The Path or Self does that, I am beginning to understand, when the mind  begins to let go of all of the thoughts, beliefs and patterns that we believe to be our life and our self.

The greatest teaching I have received is that I am and my life is, so much more than I imagined. We all are so much more than we imagine. And by surrendering to and embracing a lineage and tradition of gurus and teachers, there is the possibility to be supported and to discover our True Nature within the form of our limited self.

There is no greater gift than such a recognition that we are all on the Path, winding as it is, forever connecting the True Self Home.

Shiva’s Sunset