Sharada’s April update

nettles

The nettles are here – a sure sign of spring

Although it’s been in the air for a while, spring officially arrived a couple of weeks ago. It may not be so on the day this arrives in your inbox, but today the sun is shining and the sky is clear blue with only tiny wisps of clouds.

Our community has grown once again, and we are delighted to welcome our wonderful team of karma yogis – several for the full season, others for the 3-month KYSS program. The meals are amazing, thanks to both the farmers and the cooks. The housekeeping crew has been doing some deep cleaning in the house, while the maintenance and landscape crew continues to beautify the grounds and keep everything working. Meanwhile the office staff is busy with all the work related to programming, registration, scheduling and the many, many daily tasks of keeping the Centre organized.

Dinner time with Karma Yogis  Laura, Sam, Sherri, Lisa, Christine and Van

Dinner time with Karma Yogis Laura, Sam, Sherri, Lisa, Christine and Van

With such a strong team in place, the first Yoga Getaway of the season went off with nary a hitch. It’s always a pleasure to be able to welcome people to the Centre and provide the teachings, the best food on the island (and beyond) and the experience of peace.

A week prior to the Yoga Getaway, the DS Board and Panchayat (group of elders) and the department managers held a strategic planning meeting with the same facilitator who guided us through the process a couple of years ago. It was gratifying to note that so many of the goals we had set at that time have been met, with others in progress.

Strategic planning with Chandra, Lakshmi, SN and Carol

Strategic planning with Chandra, Lakshmi, SN and Carol

Jack reports that the farm yogis are an enthusiastic group – all women except for him. The salads that are coming from the farm are amazing! The big news of the moment is that all six varieties of potatoes are planted – a lot of potatoes. There are also 29 varieties of tomatoes in the greenhouse. Last week the farm crew spent a day repairing and recovering one of the greenhouses after a big wind ripped the plastic off. In other farm news, the new (to us) farm truck has a name, following the truck-naming competition on our Facebook page. The fifty suggestions were winnowed down by community members’ votes, and the six names with the highest number of votes were posted on FB for the final vote. The envelope please: Welcome Jai Mazdananda! – and congratulations to Patrick Hogan for suggesting the winning name. His prize was a copy of ‘The Salt Spring Experience’ and a variety of saved seeds from the farm.

Jack and the new members of the farm team, Sherri, Christine and Lisa

Jack and the new members of the farm team, Sherri, Christine and Lisa

Coming up in the third week of May is a big celebration of Babaji’s 90th birthday at Mount Madonna. Please follow this link to read the invitation. If you would like more information, or if you plan to attend, please contact either Lakshmi – lakshmi@saltspringcentre.com or Sharada – sharada@saltspringcentre.com.

Some features to check out this month: The Founding Member profile (now renamed Our Satsang Community) this month features Chandrika Lajeunesse. Chandrika has been part of our satsang community since the 70s; her brother, AD (Anand Dass) was Babaji’s first North American student, and the first yoga teacher in the Dharma Sara community. Chandrika began learning yoga from AD before she met Babaji.

The YTT grad article features Kishori Hutchings, one of the Centre’s founding members, who did her yoga teacher training the first year it was offered here, and who continues to teach, along with the many other gifts she shares with the community.

The Asana of the Month – Child’s Pose – is by Neil Mark, who teaches at the Centre during Yoga Getaways. He graduated from our YTT program in 2003 and describes himself as an extreme athlete turned yogi.

Planning for our Annual Community Yoga Retreat (August 1 – 5) is underway, and we are actively seeking an ACYR Coordinator. This will be a short-term contracted position. If you are interested, please contact Lakshmi: lakshmi@saltspringcentre.com for more information.

Sharada visits Van and Hannah in the kitchen

Sharada visits Van and Hannah in the kitchen

We welcome you to keep in touch by commenting on the various articles in this newsletter and by reading – and commenting on – postings on our Facebook page. It’s always wonderful to hear from people in our extended family.

With gratitude and love in this season of growth,
Sharada

Staying centred in the midst of life’s turmoil

babaji-1999We are all familiar with stress in its many manifestations. Why do we get so caught in the drama of life and in our habitual reactions? Sometimes life seems to flow along smoothly and we are calm, open, loving. Then something happens – and boom – we’re right back into our old patterns, even though we may have thought we had evolved, and were ‘done with that one.’

Babaji has written: We live in the imagination of others. When we see a person, we don’t see the reality of that person – we see only our projected desires, which is our imagination. In this way, as long as we have not yet realized the truth, we all live in the imagination of each other.

In our everyday life we identify things as good or bad. If something doesn’t support our ego, the mind labels it as bad, and if it does support our ego the mind says it is good. Our ego, according to its likes and dislikes colours every object, thought or idea and gives judgement accordingly.

This is a very simple teaching, yet we’re often not aware that that our response to something is our view and not the truth. In fact it usually seems perfectly obvious to us that our version of reality is true. What can we do? Babaji suggests that we live life in the world as a duty. Duty is one of those words, along with discipline, that is easy to misunderstand because of our associations with it. It is not a heavy-handed dictum; rather, it is a shift from our usual self-centred view of life – changing the angle of the mind – to an open-minded curiosity about what’s best for the whole rather than just for ourselves. Instead of assuming that our opinions are right, we can inquire: Is that really true? I once saw a wonderful bumper sticker that said: You don’t have to believe your thoughts.

Babaji reminds us that developing positive qualities is the foundation. Tolerance, compassion and contentment are the three pillars of spirituality. God can’t be seen in a form sitting in heaven but can be experienced by loving every person. Although the habit of blaming others is common, many of us turn the blame against ourselves. “Loving everyone” includes ourselves.

How do we develop these qualities.? By learning to notice when we are moving into reactive mode, taking time to centre ourselves, acknowledging that this is challenging for us, and by listening. It takes a lot of practice to be able to have that kind of awareness in heated moments, but we have many opportunities throughout the day to stop and check in with ourselves: Is there tension in my body? Why might that be? It’s really a practice of Svadhyaya, self-study. Swadhyaya is also scriptural study, which reminds us of our aim, of how we want to live.

Watching the ego becomes a habit; you have to become as alert as a thief. If we want to be free of suffering, we need to stay true to our aim. We can be serious about our practice, but we needn’t be somber and serious in our lives. As Babaji has told us repeatedly, life is not a burden; we make it a burden.

Don’t think you are carrying the whole world.
Make it easy.
Make it play.
Make it a prayer.

Contributed by Sharada. All quotes in italics are from various writings by Baba Hari Dass.