Sharada’s March Update

Greetings everyone. In January’s update, I wrote about the arrival of spring. Apparently I spoke too soon. Winter’s last hurrah came toward the end of February, with three days of non-stop heavy snow, along with two days of power outage.

Fortunately the Centre is well-equipped to deal with such surprises: the generator insured that there was water and lights. We all gathered round the wood stove, held an impromptu Bhagavad Gita study group, played scrabble, and did a thousand-piece puzzle of the Tibetan Wheel of Life, donated by Bob (painter Bob, for those who know him). Raven prepared meals and David and Stacey kept pathways clear, and Christine and David built a Ganesh snowman. There was a question about whether Shiva Ratri could go ahead, but then both Blackburn Road and the driveway got plowed, and the snow finally stopped.

feb-snowfall

Shiva Ratri was focussed and uplifting, with many people staying through the whole night. The early morning lingam procession made its way to the pond through the snow. The ice, which had been broken the day before in preparation, had to be broken again, and a few brave souls went into the pond with the lingams.. Jai Shiva!

It’s great to have karma yogis Christine and Tana returning for the coming season. I’d like to introduce the coordinators of the various departments of the Centre: Raven in the kitchen; David in the garden; Christine in housekeeping; Kris in programs and rentals; Claire in registration and office coordination. Tana will serve as needed, mainly in the garden and maintenance departments. We are currently interviewing for the position of maintenance coordinator, and are still accepting applications for Yoga Service and Study Immersion (YSSI) program coordinator and lead cooks. Click here for information about the YSS Coordinator position. Centre Committee, keeping an eye on the big picture of what goes on at the Centre, includes Paramita, Rajani, Sri Nivas and Sharada.

Rajani and Sharada are in the midst of interviewing applicants to the YSSI program, and will continue to do so throughout March and into April. If you or someone you know is interested in this program, please point them in the direction of the Centre’s website for details.

Centre residents have been enjoying the company of a couple of majestic eagles that have been roosting in a tree across the road from the Centre, and soaring over the land. They, followed by the turkey vultures, have cleaned up the remains of the young deer who didn’t make it through the winter – the cycle of birth and death.

Meanwhile, the human community at the Centre has been enjoying the delicious greens that are still being harvested from the farm – and the nettles that are springing up (even though at this moment they’re covered by snow) – such a treat!

Recently, Myles, a friend of David’s from Ontario, visited for a couple of days. It was a short visit, but things can happen here in even such a short time! Here is the thank you note he left for us.

Also for your reading pleasure is Gabriel Vinod Rose’s biographical story. Gabe was born into the satsang, and Babaji has always been part of his life. In place of our regular Asana of the Month, we offer one of Kalpana Tabachnick’s incredible asana cards, this one being alligator pose. Another article to read is Making Space for Peace, with commentary and thoughts about sutra 33 of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, reminding us that we always have the option to choose peace. Pratibha’s Ayurveda contribution will return next month.

With wishes for peace to all,
Love,
Sharada

Making Space for Peace – Sutra 33, Book 1 of the Yoga Sutras

babaji-1999The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are an ancient system of yoga, a map or set of guide-posts whose purpose is to help us navigate the mind, leading us from the restless and turbulent mind to the still and peaceful mind, in preparation for eventually transcending the mind itself. There are many translations and commentaries on these texts, including those by Babaji. So far, three of the four of these books have been published and are available at both the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga and Mount Madonna Center, and hopefully it won’t be too long before book four is also published.

As with so many traditional Indian philosophies, the Yoga Sutras begin at the end, by stating what yoga is: yogash-chitta-vritti-nirodhah – the cessation of thought waves in the mind. When the mind is free from its endless, ongoing commentary about life, there is peace. Peace is there all the time, but we’re so busy thinking and doing that we’re not aware of it.

All the practices of yoga share the aim of stilling the mind. As Babaji has told us many times, there are millions of methods, and that yoga is a bag of tricks. The purpose of these “tricks” is to purify our minds, to allow us to becomes still.

One verse in the Sutras that has always been an inspiration for me is Sutra 33: The mind becomes serene by the cultivation of feelings of love for the happy, compassion for the suffering, delight for the virtuous, and indifference for the non-virtuous. Serenity or peace is the outcome of the development of these qualities, which happens when the mind is not occupied with defending its territory. Developing those qualities is also a method of practice. Indifference or neutrality for the non-virtuous means not getting caught up about what we judge to be bad or wrong, so that we don’t lose our centre. It does not imply acceptance of negative actions, but rather, the practice of not attaching to our reactions, not taking things personally.

Our usual habits of reactivity – in the form of attraction, attachment, jealousy, anger, aversion, etc. – keep us locked into our misguided belief that we are the centre of the universe and everything should go the way we want it to. However subtle these judgements may be, indulging them leads to suffering.

A mind clouded by negative emotions is not fit for meditation. First we have to notice and acknowledge that these thoughts or feelings exist in our minds. Then we can make a conscious choice to replace those thoughts with positive ones.

The practice is that of changing the angle of the mind. When stuck in a critical mode of thinking, what’s required is a shift in thinking. While writing this, I – apparently randomly – opened Pema Chodron’s book, “No Time to Lose”, and found this passage: “Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is a practice that can help us when we feel emotionally shut down and unable to connect with others.”

She continues by saying, “Rejoicing generates good will. The next time you go out in the world, you might try this practice: directing your attention to people – in their cars, on the sidewalk, talking on their cell phones – just wish for them all to be happy and well. Without knowing anything about them, they can become very real, by regarding each of them personally and rejoicing in the comforts and pleasures that come their way. Each of us has this soft spot: a capacity for love and tenderness. But if we don’t encourage it, we can get pretty stubborn about remaining sour.”

No matter what is going on, we have the choice in every moment to open our hearts and allow the natural state of peace that exists in our hearts to arise.

Peace in the mind,
love and compassion in the heart
bring the scattered world
into one reality.

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be free.
May happiness be unto the whole world.

contributed by Sharada
All text in italics is from Babaji’s writings

Our Centre Community – Gabriel Vinod Rose

Gaberiel, part of our Centre family

Gaberiel, part of our Centre family

Babaji and the places he inspired have always been a part of my life. My parents, Chandra (Pamela) and Allan Rose, were active participants in the Vancouver Satsang, and we, along with my brother Joseph (Ramesh), visited the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga often for the first several years of my life.

GabrielRose1

Babaji and Gabriel on the mound at the Salt Spring Centre, 1985.

Although we eventually moved to the Okanagan making our visits to the Salt Spring Centre less frequent, these early connections laid a spiritual foundation. In Vernon, teachings of love, gratitude, and oneness formed the basis of our life in community, and, as a young adult, I began to explore writings of spiritual teachers including H.H. the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Rumi, Hafiz, and Baba Hari Dass.

On my first visit back to the Centre after several years away, I arrived in the middle of kirtan during the summer retreat. I remember walking into the satsang room on that hot summer evening and being instantly absorbed into the pervasive devotional energy. Despite the years that had passed, the Centre still evoked an almost instinctive sense of peace. I continue to enjoy this peace every time I visit.

In early 2009, after working in Vietnam for seven months, my mother and I met in India and spent a month together at Sri Ram Ashram. It was a heart-opening visit; I was welcomed like family by the beautiful children of the ashram, and I loved seeing Babaji in his role as father on what would turn out to be his last visit.

Naresh, Deepak, and Arpita with a new puppy at the Sri Ram Ashram, India, 2009

Naresh, Deepak, and Arpita with a new puppy at the Sri Ram Ashram, India, 2009

Later that year, my family and I visited the Mount Madonna Center in California for the New Year’s Eve Retreat. The retreat was wonderful, as always, but it was made profoundly special when I shared a smile with Emily Moir. Emily, who was also attending the retreat with her family, and I exchanged contact information. After a few visits and countless hours on Skype, she moved to Vancouver.

Gabriel and Emily at the Salt Spring Centre Annual Community Yoga Retreat, 2010

Gabriel and Emily at the Salt Spring Centre Annual Community Yoga Retreat, 2010

Emily and I attended the New Year’s Eve Retreat the following year and Babaji teased us about getting married. We weren’t even engaged yet, but he proposed the idea of us marrying right then and there. Six months later, we became engaged, and we were married in the spring of 2012. Maybe he just wanted to see our reaction to the idea, or maybe he saw it coming! Sharing a common foundation of Babaji’s teachings was, and continues to be, fertile soil for our love to blossom.

We enjoy participating in the Vancouver Satsang and always look forward to visiting Salt Spring and Mount Madonna. I am grateful to Babaji and to the places he inspired for the role they have played in encouraging the teachings of yoga to be a focus in our home and in our hearts.

Gabriel Rose
February 25, 2014

A Letter from Myles

Dear S.S.C.Y Crew,

Thank you so very much for all the warmth and hospitality expressed during my short visit to this awesome space. I really have valued and enjoyed the time I got to spend here visiting my friend David.

More than just a casual visit, my time here has been immersed in the spirit and action of yoga. Something which I understood mostly as stretching and breathing, but has been shown to me as much more. I am grateful to have been touched by the peace this space creates and look forward to bringing some of that with me, to help me have the clarity and strength that I really need in my day to day life. I feel inspired to start (continue?) doing yoga when I get back home and hope that will help me spread peace and love in a more focused and intentional way.

Thank you to Babaji, Ganesh, Hanuman and everyone else here. I wish the centre a great future as it follows its mission forward.

Myles-letter

 

 

 

 

Asana of the Month – Makarasana (Alligator Pose)

Makarasana (Alligator Pose)

This pose makes the spine flexible, strengthening the digestive system, abdomen, backside and legs.

Alligator-Pose-Omkard

Recently, Harv has embraced a new lifestyle – yoga to calm his mind, and a diet of non-gmo, zero trans fat, locally grown, organic vegetarians.

Alligator Pose card by Andrea Kalpana Tabachnick, YTT coordinator, senior teacher and artist.

YSS Coordinator Needed

Sunflowers

Yoga Service and Study Coordinator
May 1st to September 15th, 2014

The YSS Coordinator is responsible for overseeing all aspects of our Yoga Service and Study Immersion (YSSI) program, a three month intensive residential program which operates between June 1st and August 31st. The YSSI program hosts 15-20 participants who will be immersed in the study of yoga and the performance of karma yoga, or selfless service. The YSS Coordinator will participate in recruiting and interviewing participants, scheduling and supporting all program classes and activities, as well as coordinating work/study schedules for each program participant.

Applicants must be legally able to work in Canada and should have knowledge of and experience in supporting and directing volunteers who are engaged in the service of a common purpose. The ideal candidate has strong administrative abilities, is highly organized, has excellent computer skills, and possesses effective communication skills. This person also has a well-established yoga practice and a good understanding of yoga philosophy, particularly karma yoga. The YSS Coordinator must be capable of establishing and maintaining cooperative, effective working relationships with all those contacted in the course of work assignments, including volunteer staff, YSSI program participants, and guests to the Centre.

This position receives a monthly stipend of $600, as well as room and board (delicious vegetarian meals, laundry facilities, access to internet, etc), and a variety of yoga classes including meditation, asana, and philosophy. The work week is approximately 40 hours, which includes time for community meetings. This position will cover the period of May 1 – August 31, 2014. Applicants should have a strong desire to experience life in an upbeat, vibrant working community based on yoga philosophy and practice. We accept sincere applicants of all ages, nationalities and religious traditions who wish to further their spiritual development through the practice of selfless service.

Being a full-season resident at the Centre has been a unique and precious opportunity to practice selfless service and contribute to learning and sharing in spiritual community. It is a life gift for which I am deeply grateful to Baba Hari Dass and his teachings, and everyone who participates in this sacred practice. Much love.” 

~ Georgia Greetham, 2013 Karma Yoga Coordinator