News from the Centre – October 2015

Hello everyone,

Autumn has definitely arrived. The weather is cooler and wetter, and the residential community has begun its seasonal shrinking, although we still have several wonderful karma yogis here.

Front row: Piet, Madelaine, Sharada, Hamsa, Marianne, Julie; back row: Christine, David, Lakshmi, Mark

Front row: Piet, Madelaine, Sharada, Hamsa, Marianne, Julie; back row: Christine, David, Lakshmi, Mark

Our wonderful karma yogis. Clockwise from top left: Alannah; Madelaine and Dee; Melissa and Diana; Diana, Sharada, Melissa and Kyle in the back

Our wonderful karma yogis. Clockwise from top left: Alannah; Madelaine and Dee; Melissa and Diana; Diana, Sharada, Melissa and Kyle in the back

This is the season of abundance, as you can see from this photo.

September harvest with David, Ray, Diana and Kyle

September harvest with David, Ray, Diana and Kyle

We look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with our island satsang family as we do each year celebrating the bounty of the season and our connection with each other. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to you all, including our American friends who will celebrate Thanksgiving next month.

Changes at the Centre

Piet Seuss, our acting Centre Director

Piet Suess, our Interim Centre Manager

There have been some administrative changes at the Centre of late. Sally Adnams Jones, our Centre Director, has chosen to leave this role for personal reasons. I’m happy to say that she intends to stay connected with the Centre. We are grateful for her contributions to the Centre during her time here, and look forward to seeing her when she’s able to come and visit.

Fortunately, Piet Suess was willing to step up into a leadership position. He is now serving as Interim Centre Manager. Given his long association with the Centre (from the age of 2!) and his experience as ACYR coordinator for the past two years, he is very familiar both with the foundation of the Centre and the community. He brings his skills, his heart, and his creativity to the role.

There have been some changes on the Dharma Sara Board as well. Saraswati has stepped down as a member of the Board, and the two open positions have been filled by Jules Higginson and Natasha Samson. Jules has served on the DS Board in previous years and Natasha has been a DS Board intern for the past year. Fortunately, Saraswati is still very much connected to the Centre and will continue to be around whenever she can.

Opportunities at the Centre

There will be a couple of office positions opening up soon. They are not yet posted on the website, but meanwhile if you have any interest in living at the Centre and working in the office, please call the Centre office (250-537-2326) or email Piet: piet@saltspringcentre.com for further information.

Upcoming Workshops

There are two more Yoga Getaways coming up, in October and November. Also this month, Chetna Tracy Boyd will be teaching a Yoga for Cancer workshop for yoga teachers. Chetna is a superb, inspiring teacher and an important part of the Centre’s YTT faculty. Ongoing weekly activities at the Centre continue – Bhagavad Gita study, Wednesday evening kirtan and Sunday satsang, as well as daily yoga classes and monthly full-moon yajna celebrations.

Centre School back in session

Rosh Hashanah celebration with the Centre School. Tossing bread crumbs (bad habits) into the pond.

Rosh Hashanah celebration with the Centre School. Tossing bread crumbs (bad habits) into the pond.

The Centre School has been back in session for a month. A couple of weeks ago, Sharada celebrated Rosh Hashanah ( Jewish New Year) with the Centre School children, an annual tradition since the school began. The Centre School celebrates holidays from many cultures and traditions.

In this Month’s Newsletter

For your enjoyment this month, please read Bryan Eknath Hill’s story, in Our Centre Community, of his evolution from artist to massage therapist (with a lot in between), and yoga student and teacher.

As we move through this journey called life, we periodically run into obstacles. Our responses to difficulties tell us a lot about how we’re doing. I invite you to read – and practice – Accepting our Limitations.

With wishes for an abundant autumn and a joyful Thanksgiving,
Love,
Sharada

Accepting our Limitations

Babaji-picWe human beings like to think we can control what happens in our lives, yet there is so much that is not in our control.

Each of us comes into the world with certain tendencies. We can’t change our height, our body type, the colour of our skin, our age or the family patterns we have inherited. We have to work with what we’ve been given. We can eat well and take care of our bodies, we can do our practices, but there are some things we can’t do anything about. These are built-in limitations. If we don’t accept them, we suffer.

Non-acceptance of life is pain. For instance, when one gets older and does not accept age, there is pain.

Peace is there when desires are limited. Without limitation of desires, a person is like a deer who runs in a desert chasing a mirage of water without ever finding real water.

Even if we fully accept our inborn limitations, things happen that are not of our choosing; we don’t know what the future holds. We may get sick, someone close to us may get sick, someone we love may leave or die. An accident could happen, changing what we imagined to be the course of our lives. We may lose our job, our health, or something else we’re counting on. It’s also true that unexpected, wonderful and joyful things can and do happen, but they’re not usually the kinds of events that throw us into a tailspin.

What helps us in those situations? Paradoxical as it may seem, our own self-chosen limitations can come to our rescue. Limiting our desires can support us and keep us from going off the deep end when challenges arise. Without that support we can easily fall into depression or anxiety, reverting to old habits of blame, indulgence in food, drink, other substances, or overwork to name a few. If we create limits in our day to day life, we are less likely to fall into those traps. This applies in all areas of life: our diet, our entertainment choices, the way we speak to each other. Limiting options is a kind of austerity, one that can support us regardless of what happens.

Austerity means effort to control desire. It is chosen, not forced. Doing your duty is also austerity when you watch your attachments and self-interest and try to remove them.

There is no peace if there is no limitation of desires. That’s why we make rules – to imprison our desires.

Life is not a burden; we make it a burden. If we accept the law of nature, which is birth, growth, decay, and death, then life will flow in its natural course. We don’t accept life as it is. That’s why it becomes a burden.

In order to be able to access healthy choices when times are tough, it helps to establish a regular practice and stick with it. There are millions of methods, but in order for practice to make a difference, you have to do it.

By doing sadhana regularly, will power builds up. The first thing is to do sadhana every day in the morning. Gradually the mind will accept the discipline of doing sadhana and then will be able to accept other disciplines.

A cotton thread can cut an iron bar if passed over it daily. If you work on yoga, yoga will work on you.

Contributed by Sharada
All text in italics is from writings by Babaji


Sharada-headshot

Sharada Filkow, a student of classical ashtanga yoga since the early 70s, is one of the founding members of the Salt Spring Centre of Yoga, where she has lived for many years, serving as a karma yogi, teacher and mentor.

Our Centre Community: Bryan Eknath Hill

Robert and I at our Lake Garibaldi wedding July 2, 201

Robert and I at our Lake Garibaldi wedding July 2, 2011

I was an art punk. One of those kids your parents warned you about. I grew up typically middle class in a rather affluent suburb of Vancouver, not to say that we were very well off, but of sufficiently average income. I graduated high school with a green mohawk, 5 blocks of art and the absolute minimum of academic credits. When I did care about what I was learning I maintained a very high GPA. That was the case in both middle school, college and numerous other courses.

SONY DSC

I think of myself as a collector of certifications. I have a lot of them. Lets see; diploma, AED, CPR-C, LSI, NLS, YTT200hr, BCRPA, RMT, NFPA I&II, OFA3, WSI… There are a few more that I can’t recall. The ones I never completed were BFA & BA. It’s like alphabet soup. The majority of these certifications and programs were offered in crash course format; cram as much information into the most condensed amount of time possible. I’m not a fan of that type of educational format. I prefer a slow, gentle saturation of learning but lifestyle has dictated for me to maximize the work/education/time ratio. That was the conscious rationale behind why I selected the SSCY YTT program. It maximized my learning opportunity with minimal sacrifice of employment and time.

5'x6' acrylic on canvas A painting of the sunset reflecting on the gentle ocean waves while on honeymoon.

5’x6′ acrylic on canvas
A painting of the sunset reflecting on the gentle ocean waves while on honeymoon.

I’m a rather frugal fellow, I collect certificates and experiences but otherwise am a minimalist. The 5 blocks of art lead to a very brief stint in Emily Carr College of Art and Design. I was too young to appreciate what they were trying to teach me, or perhaps the message was poorly encoded. There was a rather strange turn in art school; I preferred the academics of art history to the practical skills classes. I was amazed at how the art of the ancient world reflected the collective consciousness in politics and science. There is a direct correlation between artistic style and sophistication and the technological abilities of the culture that births an art form. My downfall in art school was that parties were more important than my part-time scholastic career. That and I couldn’t afford art college on minimum wage. I still create art as a hobby. I’ve sold a few pieces as well. I typically work with acrylic paints on canvas. And I love painting huge canvases. I like when I can present an image that fills the senses and presents a different reality.

Later I returned to the education system with 10 years more maturity. The party had finished. I had spent a decade floating around the Vancouver, the Rockies and Australia experiencing life. Through all the heart breaks and naive things a reckless 20 something does, I managed to survive. There were a few very hard lessons from the school of hard knocks but I lived to tell the tale. I learned very well to consciously select the environment in which to plant the seeds I wished to reap.

Bryan at Fire Academy 2004 Vermillion, AB. I always wanted to be Mr. February.

Bryan at Fire Academy 2004 Vermillion, AB. I always wanted to be Mr. February.

Just before the new millennium I was provided the final impetus to return to Canada and begin consciously designing my life. I tend toward processes goals rather than objective goal. I was at a transition point in life of learning to run towards something rather than running away from something. I set my sights on becoming a firefighter. Not so much to be a firefighter but to explore the variety of career opportunities that provide the foundational skills for that career path. I sought out employment in aquatics to support myself through this journey. I ended up teaching swim lessons for many years as well as aquatic fitness classes. I found this to be extremely personally rewarding work for a long time. The safety and rescue aspects of lifeguarding are aligned with firefighting. I learned to drive trucks which is a long road from the art punk I was 18 years prior. This process goal also took me to further post secondary education at Langara College in human kinetics, French and meta-cognition. I devoted myself to increasing my physical strength in order to meet my objective too. For a few years I lived a very intensely full life of school, work and physical training. Yoga found me and lured me in with its calm meditative nature. I participated in a weekly hatha class at the gym I attended every other waking moment that wasn’t spent at work, school or sleeping. In 2005 I went for a 12 week National Fire Protection Agency Level 1&2 certification at Lakeland College Emergency Training Centre in Vermillion, AB. Now I was ready to apply for career firefighter positions.

Sparky the fire dog at the Cumberland May Day Celebration 2009

Sparky the fire dog at the Cumberland May Day Celebration 2009

Catch twenty-two; I needed experience to get hired in my chosen career path. I ended up moving to the Comox Valley to volunteer with Cumberland Fire Rescue. The switch from city living to the rural setting was a delightful shock. After my husband and I had spent a few years in the valley we agreed to make this our permanent home. My career in aquatics had shifted toward more traditional fitness classes and my interest in yoga asana had continued to grow. As my life slowed down with country living I recognized how to feed my soul better. I, again, enrolled in a crash course. This time it was YTT at SSCY. Life was never the same.

Yoga Teacher Training 2008

Yoga Teacher Training 2008

Though overflowing with love for the practice of yoga and being recognized as an accomplished instructor the logistics of being a yoga teacher in the Comox Valley was incongruent with a sustainable and calming existence of a standard to which I have grown accustomed. Enter Bryan Hill, registered massage therapist. This was the biggest crash course of all time and yet another certificate!

Bryan & Robert hiking between alpine hunts in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden Germany 2006. It was very rainy there.

Robert & Bryan hiking between alpine hunts in the Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden Germany 2006. It was very rainy there.

Some of my favorite experiences were on mountain tops or in remote pristine wilderness. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to some spectacular places, the Alps, Andes, Chilcotins, Desolation Sound, Banff. I share this passion with my spouse, friends and family. I am truly blessed with remarkable people in my life who help me to travel the world and revel in the beauty of what is here, both the spectacular by nature and feats of human creativity. I remember well the awe of seeing a Monet for the first time or Versaille or the Barrier Reef.

Priya, Shilpa & Bryan at the Salt Spring Centre

Priya, Shilpa & Bryan at the Salt Spring Centre

My firefighter efforts also brought volunteering into my life. At the heart of the profession is community service. I worked with habitat for humanity and a number of other volunteer efforts while living in Vancouver. When I moved to Vancouver Island, the fire department I started with received no remuneration at all. The department members regularly assisted with other groups in the village to support the young, elderly and disadvantaged. I like to come back to the Salt Spring Centre every year to assist with the YTT program. I enjoy supporting the environment that helps people go through transformation. Each time I return to the Centre and reconnect with my mentors I feel a sense of community. I thoroughly love reconnecting with the Centre staff and meeting the current program participants.

Bryan heading to SSCY on his Ducati Monster 696

Bryan heading to SSCY on his Ducati Monster 696