Unscheduled First Stop!
I find myself with an extra half hour on my hands, so I stop at the Full Moon Cafe, a small, quaint Nederland fixture. A gigantic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and soy mocha later, I am more awake and ready to begin my adventure.
I'm getting ready to go to Evening Meditation. Yoga and dinner were equally amazing - warm, gentle and nurturing. It is VERY cold and dark outside so I had a little trouble getting back to my cabin (Shakti is the name of my cabin. I thought that was auspicious.) I am dressed in layers for the Temple, where we need to 'dress up.' Tights - pj bottoms - dress pants and T-shirt - blouse - sweater. Brr. Off I go.
Wow. Amazing, After a FRIGID walk to the temple (I remembered my flashlight this time!) I could hear the sounds of music coming from within. Slipping in, I was the first non-musician there. I found a seat on a cushion next to the musicians of the kirtan and listened to them rehearse. So beautiful. The harmonium (like Phil plays!), sitar, guitar and deep drum made up the core group of musicians. Their songs were absolutely thrilling. Droning yet rich, with complex harmonies and a drum beat that I could feel deep within ... and that was just practice! Others filed in and the chanting began. It was a call and response that lifted us up and simply filled the room with warmth, love, peace and joy. After about 40 minutes of chanting, we had 20 minutes of silent meditation. The suggested mantra is Om Namah Shivaya (I bow with respect to my Inner Self.) This was hard for me ... but I tried. I drifted in and out of actually "doing" the mantra correctly with the breathing and then letting my mind wander. I kept bringing it back though and it was lovely and rejuvinating.
After that we went back to the Yoga room for a guided relaxation class. This involved different levels of tense and release. At the end, looking into the heart and all it holds that I am grateful for ... it felt like all the joy I've experienced this far in my life was concentrated there, bubbling and calm, waiting to be realized again. We crunched back through the cold to our cabins and I'm all ready for bed. 5:15 wakeup tomorrow for the Guru Gita.
The time has gone by so quickly! I can't believe my time here is nearing its end already. After an amazing night's sleep (no one cried, barked or meowed and woke me up!) my alarm woke me at 5:15 for the Guru Gita. I have been looking forward to this chant and hurried across the freezing grounds to the Temple. The chant was long (180 verses! in Sanskrit!) but very interesting and beautiful. It tells the story of what meditation is all about ... good information! The concept of Guru as the Enlightened Self .... how respectful to one's self. This was new to me ... my concept of a Guru wasn't large enough to encompass the idea of the Guru WITHIN one's self. Cool. After the chant was another silent meditation which was difficult for me, but also much easier than the night before. Repeating the mantra over and over helped me focus. Ahh...
Next was a warming breakfast of hot oatmeal, curried potatoes, veggies and tempeh, fresh fruit and toasted bagels. And more green tea. Mmm...
After breakfast was my massage treatment. It was one of the best ever, to be sure, in spite of my goose egg and neck muscle strain. It was so gentle yet firm, relaxing and wonderful. I practiced the mantra to keep in the moment rather than drift off and miss it like I usually do! Ah...
Then a hot relaxing shower and into my yoga clothes. Yoga starts in 10 minutes. First a half hour breathing class followed by an hour yoga class. Then lunch and I'll have to go! What a wonderful restorative place to be.
Home safe! I almost didn't get out! The Saturn got stuck on the hill up out of the ashram. Luckily one of the guys urged me to gun it and I got out. Whew!
Yoga this morning was preceded y a half hour breathing techniques class. The yoga class was more intense than yesterday's so it was a challenge - but a good one. I even did the pigeon pose (or, the hopping pigeon, in truth!)
Lunch was spanikopita, a warming carrot apple soup with brown rice, and sauteed beets with walnuts. And more green tea. So delicious.
Next came my trying adventure in front wheel drive. But the hour drive home was peaceful and pleasant, thanks to a lovely CD I purchased, Ganapati Om, a collection of chants known as the kirtan. Selected kirtan are used before meditation. Last night's Evening Meditation was the highlight of my stay. What a wonderful 24 hours. Om Namah Shivayah. I bow with respect to my Inner Self.