I have gone from Pennsylvania's low mountains to Manhattan's chaos to Brooklyn's comfort to Vermont's nostalgia since I wrote last. My last week in Pennsylvania was at once uneventful and exactly what I hoped. I took a walk at sunrise on my final morning and the path around the pond had suddenly become fall.
Thanks in part to an amazing faculty member, I was able to remember why I'd gone there, and acknowledge that what I gathered and what I learned had little to nothing to do with what I intended. I continue reading The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and even David Frawley's Yoga & Ayurveda which is a great simple introduction to the study of Ayurveda. I continue deepening my own asana practice and exploring further training programs but I do all of this in the interest, not of my personal, creative, spiritual development, but actually in service to my work as a counselor. That is where I think deepening my practice and training can really have a lot of meaning... more on this later, much more I imagine. But here are the things I took away from a month at an ashram.
A juice cleanse, true and solitary juice cleanse, is an amazing, strengthening, odd, important experience that I hope I'll do at least once a year because it makes my body and mind feel hollowed out and rejuvenated and strong, if a little weak and flaky in the middle, but three days is certainly enough
I DO feel better when I don't drink coffee or wine, when my food is fresh and unprocessed, when I don't eat meat or sugar, my skin looks better too-- I'm not ready to give any of these beautiful things up but I will remember this and work on moderation.
When I am in a place where I can hike or walk every single morning, I feel simply and exceptionally happy
Eating meals alone is not scary. In fact, it's pretty wonderful
Meditation is harder than almost anything I've ever done. And I like my brand of yoga with a lot of flow and a little bit of sweat, but Hatha yoga strengthens my breath and my center in a way I never expected
Yoga does not stand alone as a physical practice and I would rather not listen to Lady Gaga or even Portisehead while I am in practice. I would rather connect to the philosophical teachings and the motions and sounds of my breath because this makes me physically stronger
I am really bad at taking self portraits
"The path of yoga, as always, stresses direct experience over other forms of knowledge."
The Yoga Sutras
I still have no idea what I'm doing, this year or beyond, and I have not achieved total peace with this, but I have come through the first phase of my "sabbatical" year and it was an experience that moved me and challenged me in the best ways-- the ways, of course, I did not expect. Last night I roasted acorn squash and stuffed it with apples and walnuts and nutmeg so I am in Vermont and its Autumn and I'm trying to settle in to that for now.
So here is a final sunset on my Pennsylvania adventure. Can you see the deer in the field? They just stared at me.