Sunday, July 31, 2011

First night in the cement room.

Ok, so it is like camping:  no refrigerator, cupboards, closets, kitchen, or attached bathroom. Did get a free standing rack for my clothes, a hot plate (was able to make coffee/tea!!!), the water for the shower was warm from the sun, only drinking bottled water reduces your water wastefulness. buying food that doesn't need refrigeration, hand washing laundry in a bucket, and the bike/free weights are coming tomorrow at 1:00.  The fan makes a huge difference--hot air in motion is better than stagnant hot air.  The walk home at night (2 minutes) is stellar. All the hills are green from the rain and the free range animals look a lot healthier and sleeker.

So amazing to sit in the ashram... The depth of humility and love from Gurudev is still overwhelming at times--especially if you look into his eyes.  They are like two portals that have no end and there are no distractions.  You get a glimmer of feeling/being transparent as a lint free screen.  I also enjoy that the ashram environment allows you to be present in whatever way is making sense in the moment.  No pressure for group dynamics, just enjoying the stream of people coming and going, witnessing their reactions and exchanges, visiting with the regulars, and being at peace with it all.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

In the flow, going with the flow...

An aspect of spiritual deepening is trusting, allowing, and going with what is unfolding.  Moving to India was the first big part of this for me.  Now, probably moving in the next thirty days is a lesser, but a piece of this aspect.  It turns out that a few things have been going on where I was to live that appear not to be negotiable.  Learning a lot about the inner thinking and business process of the Indian culture--even Gurudev is involved in an advisory form/(gate keeper to the bigger picture incognito.) I am getting an opportunity to examine my faith and not opt for my false/ego driven will to overcome the situation:  just sit back, open, soften, and let the universe drive the bus.  Knowing that I could sleep on the street or rent a room in a hotel gives me a lot of flexibility.  In the meantime, I did have a fan installed (one guy standing on two stacked barrels with two other guys stabilizing the barrels), ordering a spin cycle to keep up with my fitness rain or shine, and getting the final linens for the bed. We decided that there aren't too many critters in my room, so that I am safe to sleep with the mattress on the floor.

It turns out that one Saturday a month, Gurudev goes outside the ashram to give Satsang to a small group of disciples.  Someone was explaining that there was singing, chanting, dancing, and teaching:  a little different flavor of spiritual process for the ashram attendees, but it sounded familiar to what I had been exposed to at home.   It would be very interesting to attend, but I am not sure if it is private at this point.

While sitting in His presence or the presence of the ashram pictures, something has shifted. I don't really notice that I am in that "stoned/bliss" state until I go to move.  Before, I recognized it even while sitting.  I was called to get up and move quickly a couple of times and even though mentally I was able to sharpen/move, my body was in a completely different state.  It surprised me.  Almost as if I was trying to move in a dream state.  Something has shifted in my walks through the streets too.  It feels like I am more a part of the whole:  not standing out and drawing unwanted attention.  The business people are treating me more fairly with pricing.  Children/mothers are still asking for money, but watching a native deal with it is insightful.  Sometimes they only want money--not food--just like at home.

The book I mentioned yesterday has some interesting thoughts and statistics about the poor and the growing global division between the "haves" and the  "have nots."  Coming from a land where historically hard work and vision enabled success vs. cultures where malnutrition, impure water, and basic survival hamper the drive and limit success for individuals.  The out of site, out of mind principle applies too.  When our stricken neighbors are across a body of water or in a foreign land, it can be more challenging to draw upon compassion or statistically too overwhelming to take action.  The book was written before we (Westerners) were stricken with the current challenges of economic instability, unemployment rates, and home foreclosures.  This layer is still a different aspect of survival than finding a clean water source or food supply, but it is more difficult to recognize that when in your own "survival mode."  It is interesting to learn and digest all of this firsthand while living in a country that is considered more of a "have not" country.  My verdict is undetermined at this point.  Not sure where issues like birth control, basic cleanliness/respect for the surroundings, and honesty all fit into the have or have not part of the equation.

On a lighter note, Gurudev offered me his stationary bike, but it isn't working properly, (sat out in the rain once creating rust and the tension adjustor is broken), but it would almost be worth it for the essence left from his presence....  He also asked me about my plans for work, so when I mentioned the horse possibility again and being open to what might show up.  There appeared to be a small floodgate open and just by chance, the brother of my horse contact was sitting in the Ashram...  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Return to Jaipur, India

What would I have done without Karn.  He picked me up at the airport and spent the day helping me sort out buying a mattress, clothes rack, and misc. stuff to live in my new home.  Nothing like looking out the back window and seeing elephants strolling along the road or a floating palace on your local lake.  Arriving at 6:45 am, the temperature was pleasant and driving through the Pink Palace was very quiet.  What happened to the India I remembered?  Was it a dream?  Surfacing again around 10:00, everything was back to normal with sounds, smells, and sites.  This is a massive shift and I will be more or less camping in Jaipur.  Hoping to install the fan today which will make a big difference.  Found a hot plate and I do have wall sockets, so I will be able to start heating tea and cooking--it won't be much of a shift for me regarding cooking except for a big, leafy, green salad every day.
I was pretty well not in in my normal state when I went to the ashram, but it didn't matter.  It was so lovely to sit in the presence of Gurudev and feel the remarkable heart opening energy.  I had a chance to look at a book that was made from pictures of the Guru Full moon--wow.  Gurudev sat for 12 hours in lotus position without a break, 2,000 or so people streamed by for the celebration and a big dinner was served for 1,500.  I had been emailed by someone in India that I had missed a big event.  Karn had also said that it was one of the biggest days of the hear.  Maybe I will still be here next year?  Irregardless, I enjoyed being part of the celebration in Santa Rosa. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Universe's Sense of Timing

Why would I think easing into this "blind step" of spiritual unfolding would go slowly when 4 1/2 months ago I was stubbornly skeptical of Divine Beings and had no real desire to go to India--and now I am moving there for an undetermined period of time?  During my 12 hour layover in the Hong Kong airport, I began relaxing into the new reality and started considering what is my "real" motivation for going to India.  Karn keeps referring to it as a spiritual vacation, but my inner resonance doesn't buy that one.  The time back in the Western world with my spiritual seeking tribe and surrounded by the freedom, abundance, and safety that the US represents was good for deepening into the question of, "What am I doing and why?"  The layover gave me time to update my two blogs, make facebook entries, and read through all miscellaneous paperwork lurking in my travel folder.  Ok, so now what?  I found a nice video of an interview by Angelina Jolie regarding life in Cambodia, world issues, and the beauty of a photo shoot.  It made me reflect on her influence/inspiration to kick start me heading back out into the world.  Her work as an UN Ambassador in combination with her Hollywood connection has always intrigued me--it seemed like the perfect coupling of light and dark.


An interview with Jolie that will be posted later in the month. In it, she is expected to discuss how her visit to Cambodia was a life-changing experience, awakening her to the plight of Third World countries. She adopted her eldest son, Maddox, from Cambodia and she and Brad Pitt established the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which is active in community development and conservation in the country.

She's barefoot, wearing her own clothes, less makeup and toting her own elegantly weathered monogrammed Alto bag. Yet Angelina Jolie looks radiant and completely in her element, reclining on a wooden boat in a verdant, lakeside landscape in Cambodia's Siem Reap province. Jolie discovered the country in 2000 when she filmed "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," and it sparked her humanitarian activism. 

During the past two years of moving through my deepest inner darkness with the help of Narayana Baba and Mataji, it was time to start looking and experiencing the outer darkness (at least that was my perception) in the world at large.  South Africa was my first stop and India became my second stop.  So while mulling all of this over, I also chewed on one of my current questions regarding humans on the planet:  is there something beyond the individual's pathway?   I recognize that we are all related/connected through an internal spark of energy (life force), living in the world proceeds, and we start developing varying amounts of lint on our lint screen.  We can learn techniques and follow beliefs for "self mastery" that can help minimize or reduce the lint build up--our own or contributing to others.  My research from reading, interviewing, and questioning shows that we need to start with our own-- and get a handle on that.  Obviously, a monumental task in itself and one that I have personally only started to see a hint of a light at the end of the tunnel, but is that enough?  Many of the spiritual teachings say that it is.  Or is it just the start of a new layer?
As I sat in the airport and decide to start with one of the books that I would consider light reading--wham--it was all about this idea, (The Hole in our Gospel, by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision US.)   He talks about taking the idea of "God" moving from a private/inward belief to a public/outward belief to be more complete.  More grace, it is that opening the page to just what you were asking to investigate.   This question is taking on the feel of my entire spiritual reality--my shoelace is caught in the escalator and there is an undeniable pull to keep moving into the unknown.  The difference this time is that I am armed with faith (not blind) and an open heart (instead of skepticism and a potentially openable heart.)
Richard is very Christian, so I am doing some mental substitution for my current belief of no one religion taking precedence over another--just the idea of spiritual unity.  He included a quote in his book that I thought was lovely.

Christ has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
--Saint Teresa of Avila--

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

San Francisco, California Final Day in US

Spent a lovely day taking care of final details and enjoying the beauty of San Francisco with a dear friend, Norma.  The weather was sunny and gorgeous.  Another slice of the past wondering around Ghiradelli Square, Cannery Row, and Golden Gate Park.  I hadn't had a sundae at Ghiradelli Square since I was 12 years old?  It was still delicious.

Luggage checked in and surprisingly, no extra charges.  Cathy loaned me her "Big Bags" and we carefully weighed and measured everything, but I did expect excess weight charges.  More flow in the grace. First stop Hong Kong.  Second stop Delhi.  Third stop Jaipur, 6:45 am July 29th.

It has taken a village to get me to this point.  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  All of the i's are dotted and the t's crossed.  The freedom to step into this next opportunity for deepening is incredible. My responsibility is to open my heart, learn more about the truth, and report back on the blogs.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The sky as the landscape

Amazing week of nature, friends, and family.  The final journey was Whidbey Island, Washington (Western Washington) to Spokane, Washington (Eastern Washington--almost on the Idaho border) and back diagonally south to Santa Rosa, California.  For the first leg of the drive "home", I drove in silence for 10 hours.  The drive leaving Spokane was incredible.  It felt like I could be in South Africa with the open view and the limitless sky.  The sky was the landscape.  The week of driving truly was a kaleidoscope with the views ever changing.  It was like a new screensaver on the windshield every 20-30 minutes. As a teen, I drove across the US twice, but I would like to revisit that experience as an adult.  Maybe after India...

The photos are the view from the Whidbey house and of the Whidbey house. Thank you Liz and Gary!! (It will soon be a vacation rental if you want to experience a slice of heaven.)  The view is spectacular.  Liz took me for a guided tour of the beach down below the house. We got there from a lovely walk through the trees and local vegetation.  We picked up bits and pieces of litter that had found its way onto the beach and discussed some of the local environmental challenges.  It is sometimes overwhelming to consider the challenges of living in harmony with the planet and the people on the planet.  Even in such a pristine, beautiful location there is a lot of thought and work to respecting the water quality, future of marine life, and how to co-exist with a small carbon footprint.  Returning to India's environment will be a bit overwhelming at first after experiencing such "environmental purity," but the foundation of Mother Earth is the same.  Facing humans after sitting in the presence of Gurudev and many of the ashram's community was also a bit of a transition coming back from India.  Of course, the separation is in my limited perception--the lint on Sue's lint screen.  A constant motivation and reminder for why I have taken on this journey:  to find true peace internally no matter where I am, whomever I am with, or in whatever situation.  I see the possibility of the unity, but there is a lot of work ahead.  Jai Guru!!

One of the other highlights of the trip was visiting my Aunt, Uncle, and cousins in the Spokane area.  It was so fun, they arranged a campfire with s'mores (roasted marshmallows and a chocolate square, sandwiched between two graham cracker squares) like we use to experience as kids camping together.  Another gem of living, taking time to sit and visit--no hurry and no agenda.  Sinking into the listening and sharing of each person's story--another dimension of beauty and grace.  (A giant stack of homemade waffles was a great sendoff for the trip ahead!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Infusion of nature as grace, beauty ...

After taking care of the last details in Southern California, I headed up the road to Northern California (Santa Rosa) for two days, and onto Oregon and Washington for a strong infusion of Nature's grace and beauty.  I opted for the coast drive, the 101 Hwy.  I am always in awe of nature and the multi-faceted aspects of expression/detail.  Last week, 112 degrees/rocks/sand/cactus and this week, 60 degrees/ocean/ferns/evergreen trees/flowers--and all within a day or two of driving.  The drive is nostalgic, revisiting places that I visited or camped at as a child.  Nature and animals have always been my connection to the spiritual realm, so I felt the desire to pay my respects before leaving for India.  It has been a little bit hectic and mental to organize the departure, so I wanted to deepen back into my heart--closer to the place I found while "being" in Jaipur.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Video/photo collage of the past year--more practice

Still working on my editing/video-movie making, so I made a collage of the dance competition video, riding, photos and more, (paste or copy link below.)  We are trying out a new hosting system that allows us to post horse sales videos with more selective privacy.  It takes a few minutes for the link to download (not immediate like Youtube), so please be patient.  I hope that it is worth the wait.  I would love feedback on how the system worked, didn't work, too slow, etc.  Thank you in advance!  Email me at if you want me to send you a link to click on directly--the blog appears to block that option

Got everything stored and sorted today, so headed north to Northern California.  Sophie (my cat who is staying in Southern California) spent the morning following me back and forth to the car while I was packing.  The drive was lovely and fluid, so the eight hours passed quickly.  I always enjoy long drives on traffic free roads.  Looking into selling my car.  Oh, I did get approved for a 10 year visa to India, but I found out that you are suppose to leave India every 6 months for 2 months.  All of this appears to be adding to the adventure--it is all so awesome!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Walking Beauty, Grace, Humility, and Love

Beauty, grace, humility, and love in a form...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dance Competition Palm Desert, California

Twenty years of dancing summed up in two hours.  It was a final exam of sorts, not unlike selling Ultimo.   The effect of six weeks in Jaipur still continues to amaze me.  As I revisit aspects of my life, people, places, and events, I see how different everything has become.  Each point is unique and carries its own vibration or resonance, but my internal landscape is more peaceful how it experiences these unique elements.

A ballroom dance event is like going to a foreign country.  There is a tribe of people in maximum glamour and a different glamour than Hollywood or Bollywood.  The gowns are extravagant and over the top with encrusted jewels and yards of flowing fabric.  The men are more conservative with tailcoats, but many enhance their appearance with make-up.  All of a sudden their are no rules about how to get to the finished product of glamour.  Hair is shaped and decorated with jewels, tans are in place via a tanning booth or spray tan, and make-up becomes acceptable at the theatrical level.  While I was experiencing all of this through my personal glamourized appearance and the surroundings, I felt the inner calmness of the ashram.  In some ways I became the being with two eye holes and the rest was peaceful expansiveness.  In the past, I would have been agitated by being in such a foreign get-up and feeling so out of place, since my normal attire is riding pants, boots, and a cap.

While waiting on deck to step onto the floor, there was no nervousness--only joy at the opportunity to experience dancing without choreography.  Finally in a way that was letting go within the structure and really enjoying the energy of shared movement, having no where to go but the present moment, and nothing to do but sense into what was unfolding.  Crazy fun.  Twenty years of technique, dance related growth/introspection, and trust all swirling in a container of human phenomena.

It really is the path.  These moments are the icing on the cake.  Placing well was a dance juries acknowledgement of the work, but it paled next to the level of satisfaction we both felt. No one new that we hadn't danced from choreography.  People commented on the ease and flow of our actions, but it was a credit to the ego stepping aside.  We trusted our training and became a physical expression that was organic in every sense.  The real truth and authenticity of dancing is now beginning.  I could become addicted, since this is what my inner being has searched for.  I had experienced it early on in riding, so why was it so allusive in dancing?  Two human minds with egos instead of partnering with an animal that lives in uncluttered truth/presence is the obstacle.  The letting go had to be valued and trusted by both partners.  An unforgettable experience.  Thank you Max!!!

The letting go, trust, faith or however you want to describe it is what I have done to now follow this spiritual path at a new level.  Faith in the unknown, giving up control, and flowing with the unfoldment becomes the way to approach living.  The dance competition was a dress rehearsal for what lies ahead. Creative teaching at its finest.  Thank you universe!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Northern California

Time is flying now. Just finishing up a 5 day stay in Northern California to visit friends and family.  It has been wonderful.  I got some great input on how to approach my dance and music studies in Jaipur.  It was lovely to sit with Narayana and the sangham in Sonoma County.  The support and love from the group and my other friends is so deeply appreciated.  I got an update that my visa is processed, so I hope it will show up soon to confirm what visa level was accepted.  Headed home to prepare for a ballroom dance competition in Palm Desert on Friday and finish packing/filling storage unit/business dealings.