As I think back on this week, which was unusually rainy and filled with challenges, my mind becomes flooded with so many wonderful experiences that it's hard to believe they all happened in one week:)
The top highlight for me was assistant teaching for the first time with Krishnadas, one of the finest yoga asana teachers I've ever met. He was a physical therapist before joining the senior staff of the Ashram, and his teaching reflects a deep understanding of the physiology of the body and a deep spiritual connection to everyone he comes in contact with.
Taking his class is always a joy, and assisting in his class was a true honor.
This week, I began eating meals with the presenters at the Ashram, on behalf of my supervisor, Rukmini. This meant having the privilege of engaging in conversations with some highly learned, talented and deep thinking individuals devoted to a spiritual path.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, PhD Director of Research doing clinical studies on yoga and meditation, plus teaching at Harvard and his lovely wife were two of the guests I dined with. Bharata Surya, Ayurveda practitioner, therapist and vegetarian chef trained in U.S, Europe and India and his charming wife have been guests this week.
Among my favorites is Father William Meninger, a founder of the Centering Prayer movement, author of many books and residing at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, CO.
In his 80's, this enlightened monk travels with two attorney devotees. Father Meninger had us enthralled at every meal, and usually laughing a fair amount too. He taught about Christian contemplative practices that I had no idea were even part of Christianity, let alone Catholicism.
The similarities of the writings of ancient Christian mystics to the yoga teachings were surprising and comforting.
What a blessing to have been in this man's company!
And my list continues, believe it or not, as I also sat next to Dr. Dale Buegel MD who has 40 years experience teaching yoga disciplines, integrating extensive training in allopathic medicine, bodywork therapies and energetic medicine.
I didn't even knew these types of therapies and disciplines existed until a few days ago - fascinating to discover more and more of 'what I don't know, I don't know' :)
Two days ago, award winning, Ragani and her band arrived at the Ashram to enchant us all with their musical talents and beautiful kirtan. She met her guru (teacher) that she would follow at the age of 8, and she lived in an Ashram in Pennsylvania every summer, following a yogic lifestyle her entire life, as her parents are also yogis.
And guess where she and her band are from?
Milwaukee, Wisconsin!!!! So hard to believe on so many levels -
Kirtan is call and response singing, so we all sang and enjoyed two amazing evenings of spiritual music - very powerful energetically - you can feel the energy.
It isn't the wild and frenetic energy of rock concerts, which can agitate the nervous system, and usually produce racing heartbeats, sweating and quickened breath.
The kirtan produces an energy of warmth that is uplifting and peaceful at the same time. The chanting is often quite fast and full of drumming and clapping and other musical accompaniment of the audience, but it is not in the least bit disturbing when it ends. There is no sweating and heart pounding, but instead a calm in the silence and a feeling of reverence as the music stops. It's quite nice, and I love it!
Why I shared about these presenters? - besides their being amazing people
- picture this -
We are in the Bahamas at an Ashram Yoga Retreat, nightly lighting candles for Chanukah and singing a few Jewish prayers after meditation and singing the Opening Prayer of Yoga -
pictures of deities of the Hindu tradition adorning the walls of the Temple, alongside Jesus, Mary and Muhammad -
with everyone, including a PhD Sikh and a Catholic monk making offerings of flower petals in the puja (spiritual ceremony) that is led by an Indian Vedic Priest -
and the Catholic monk, along with his two accompanying lawyer devotees participating in the chanting which is
led by a kirtan group who came from Milwaukee.
I am living what Swami Vishnudevananda (the founder of the Bahamas Ashram Yoga Retreat) hoped would bring true peace to the world - Unity in Diversity, and it is incredible!
Sending You Love from the Bahamas,🌞
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
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