Reflections from a Karma Yogi
by Sukie Jefferson
Upon arrival, I felt a very mellow and slow pace about the place, as though everyone was speaking in a gentle whisper. Bodies moving slowly and gracefully, not rushed or hurried. Little did I know, this gentle rhythm would soon too become my own internal pace.
As a participant of the most recent Karma Yoga cohort, I was welcomed into the Center’s tranquil sanctuary, a place where linear time becomes blurry and days of the week become seemingly inconsequential. In lieu of asking our logical minds to make all our decisions, we were instead encouraged to check back in with the heart. To assess, moment by moment, where we were, inwardly. And to observe how this inward identity harmonized with those around us in community.
Alongside 7 other women, our cohort ventured out in to the forest, to nest in the space that would become our campsite homes for the next 7 weeks. Tucked into crevices of the dense woods and sprawled out across meadows with high grasses, we lay down on the earth and began to cast out dreams under the protective reach of tall cedars.
Each night, it was as if the land began to carefully recalibrate the very fiber of our bones. Slowly thinning the veil and beckoning our breath to deepen.
The land indeed was mystical, sacred and serene, a combination which ignited within us a deep remembrance. A nod perhaps to the traditional and ancestral ways of living, where tribes roamed the lands and encountered nature’s bounty with grace and ease. Our spirits began to recall a time when we had no fear of the dark and instead found comfort in damp forest trails, lined with owls and deer grazing under the crescent moon.
The Center’s land became an invitation to true stillness. A place where city-dwellers come flocking to answer a call they can’t quite seem to put into words, but feel ever so deeply in their souls. A need to come home. A need to reintegrate to a place where there is reverence and interconnectivity with earth’s elements. A place that offers a symbiotic relationship to nature and all that is divine.
Each night, as the weeks passed, I became so deeply and consciously aware of the variances in nature’s rhythm, from the winds moving through the creaking trees to each of the autumnal leaves that fell around me. A short trail hike that would otherwise take 20 minutes began to take me 1 hour to complete as I entered in to the forest with SO much wonder and sensitivity to the natural realm. As if again a child, I carefully found myself ducking the delicate webs spiders wove in the night to catch their prey or witnessing the curvature of mossy tree branches and the laughter of school kids echoing in the distance. Nature’s great design began laying her work at my feet, and this time, I was lucky enough to be able to bear full witness.
During my time at the Center, yoga was revealed to me in ways that often had nothing to do with finding myself seated on a mat. My true inner takeaways and understanding of yoga became far more nuanced and subtle. Gifts of stillness began to reveal themselves to me in a world otherwise filled with a great amount of noise and calamity.
Thus, in many ways my time at the Center was an honor. Any and every act of Karma Yoga was an honor. Every meal shared, dish washed and task completed. For these sacred lands and safe-space sanctuaries must be protected. The spaces where the spirits of the land talk louder than that of the humans who inhabit it must not be forgotten. As many of us begin and continue to question the fast pace with which we can often lead our lives, the significance of the Center’s existence as a place of respite cannot be understated. Let many more of us continue to find our way home. Back to ourselves, back to community and back to the precious sacred earth that continues to hold us in her loving arms.