Some of you have sent me notes to ask about my typical day -
There is a 5:30am wake up bell that sounds throughout the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, with another ringing of the bell at 5:45am.
The first week here, I took a course on Essence of Yoga, and we were told that showering in the morning before meditation and chanting is the most desirable. In an effort to try out the effects of this, I’ve been showering each morning before going to the 6am satsang.
Also, from an Ayurvedic perspective, KP Khalsa has advised me and is prescribing based on the ‘ideal’ waste elimination being first thing in the morning, upon waking - both urine and fecal waste.
I mentioned in earlier updates that my laxative of choice, my entire adult life was strong black coffee. I have not ever naturally eliminated upon waking to my recollection. Maybe when I was a child?
It has been 5 months without coffee for me, as it is not a balanced choice for my specific constitution, especially as I am trying to balance all my imbalances and heal.
I’m naturally slow in the morning. I found waking at 5:30 did not allow me relaxation for elimination and a shower and teeth brushing, dressing etc. plus walking back and forth between my tent and the facilities and then the satsang hall.
The rushing just did not work the first week, so I’ve chosen rising at 5am or close to that. I do not use an alarm. This earlier waking so far is working better. (Sleeping is a different issue for another update.)
What is satsang? It is a gathering for silent meditation, joyful chanting and then a lecture about a spiritual topic, usually led by one of the senior staff. The lectures are quite interesting. The challenge for me comes in sitting cross legged for that long, and the bug bites often seem itchiest during satsang for some reason, but it’s getting a little easier.
The Mobile Meditator cushion, given to me by a dear karma yogi is a huge help, and I highly recommend. She said she purchased it on Amazon.
My favorite satsangs start with a silent meditation walk on the beach and then our chanting and lecture is on the beach with the beautiful sunrise as the backdrop - breathtaking.
I’ve experienced many a sunset, but I’ve not been witness to many sunrises - always preferred sleep. I realize now that I have been missing out, as sunrise is wonderful:)
The satsang lasts from 6am-7:30am, followed by a brief staff led meeting daily to go over the introductions, goodbyes and daily schedule. The morning yoga class is at 8am-9:45am. There is also an afternoon yoga class from 4-5:45.
Karma yogis, everyone except for the Teacher Training Course students and vacationers, choose one of the yoga classes in accordance with our duties and approvals of our supervisors.
We also have the opportunity to attend classes, such as the two I took on Essence of Yoga - each one week long classes, with an hour and a half lecture, plus a specialized small yoga class.
I am currently assisting with the Communications team here, helping with a variety of tasks that change daily. I enjoy the people on our team, and am happy to contribute. My supervisor is wonderful to assist, and I learn something new each day.
On a couple occasions I have helped with serving a meal - cafeteria style, with servers providing the food onto the plates - a simple and fun task. I also help out now with Prasad, the blessed fruit that is offered to everyone as they leave satsang. I enjoy this role too.
The karma yogis who are here provide their services for 5 - 7 hours/day, depending on the job and depending on the day. It is all pretty flexible and dependent on needs, more than routine.
Some days I have the luxury of working in an air conditioned office space, and other days I am in the heat the whole day - not in direct sun, as there is much shade here, and if not in a meeting, I work in my tent hut. It has been quite warm and humid most days I’ve been here, as would be expected in an island setting.
We have two official meal times, at 10am and then at 5:45pm. Mid-day healthy snacks can be purchased in the Boutique, but rarely do I feel the need for anything other than our meals.
The food is quite good. Lots of interesting preparations of vegetarian fare. Often both vegan and vegetarian options are available, and always fresh fruits and greens and vegetables, plus warm freshly baked bread, peanut butter and strawberry jam and oatmeal at breakfast. Most days we have soups as well and different types of rice. I’ve enjoyed the food, and I am happy with what is available.
Evening satsang is another opportunity for silent meditation (25 min), chanting and guest lecturers. These are from 8-10/10:30pm. There have also been three birthdays and three cakes with special chanting and singing of Happy Birthday at the end of the satsangs.
The quality of evening presenters, and the variety are outstanding. Just some of the experts I’ve listened to - an expert in neuroscience, a cardiologist, a quantum theory physicist, nutrition experts, a chanting group providing four nights of music fest, a visiting Swami from India, a specialist in neuro-rehabilitation and neurology psychiatry, who also amazed us with his classical guitar performance. Great programming here!
I have found myself challenged with learning names of people, processes, locations and fitting in my herb consumption and making teas, etc. - just the logistics of living in this very different and new environment. Even zipping and unzipping my tent flaps in order to keep out the insects, mosquitoes and rain takes time and planning- small things add up when they are all such new tasks.
It would be funny to see me some mornings when I really have to go to the bathroom and the zipper on my tent gets stuck as I try pulling it up - all rather humorous as I think about it, but I've been panicky with lots of little things as I learn how to adjust day by day. I'm learning alot about myself.
I’ve never camped nor stayed in a tent. The closest I've experienced to camps were dance and cheerleading camps, where we were in air conditioned dorm rooms.
My supervisor here encourages me to go to the beach for relaxation and to cool off, but I’m still struggling to get everything done without major rushing. In time, I’ll get faster and more efficient.
The past two days, I spent just 10-15 minutes in the ocean and felt refreshed and rejuvenated. The water is so clear, it appears to be pool like. The colors are spectacular to behold, and today’s gentle breeze was heavenly.
I will do this more as I am here longer. So far, I have done a few silent meditation walks on the beach and eaten a few meals overlooking the ocean. More ocean and beach time will be in my future days, as I acclimate more.
For now, I’m pleased with myself that I am attending everything, taking classes and workshops, honoring my karma yoga commitments and following my Ayurveda prescriptives as best I can. Plus I journal daily and am sharing with all of you the experience:)
PROGRESS TO REPORT:
The rather hush hush topic of bodily waste is very important and significant in health and the well being of our bodies, mind and overall spirit. You may recall that my digestion and sleep are the big areas that KP Khalsa is focusing on with me initially.
He refers to peeling back layers and says that with my having so many years of a different lifestyle and different eating/drinking habits, it is like “moving the Titanic” and takes time.
Though it may not seem a big deal to most, to me, reporting that I have had wake up bowel movements a few days in a row is a sign of real progress. I'm nowhere near regular and balanced in this area, but there has been progress already:)
If you’d asked me 6 months ago, if I thought coffee free eliminations upon waking was a possibility, I would have strongly doubted it.
Who knows What else is Possible? I hope you continue to follow along to find out.
I am grateful to my guide, the highly esteemed KP Khalsa, and I continue to daily take herbs from the high quality, best organic provider of herbs in the U.S., Banyan Botanicals. And last, but certainly not least, I will be immersed in the beautiful and spiritually rich Ayurvedic life that is lived at the Sivananda Yoga Retreat and Ashram in the Bahamas.
I am grateful, blessed, excited and nervous as I inch my way forward to Friday, when I take the final leap.
I won't have my eyes closed, and I will have my heart and mind open:)
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Sending you Love from the Bahamas