Our Centre Community: Indira/Uma/Cynthia Bennett
A dear friend introduced me to Baba Hari Dass when I was on my way back from my first trip to India in 1977. I had driven a van from London to Kathmandu and had been away from home for two years. I stopped in on my friend at her home in Hilo, Hawaii for a bit of R&R before facing the “real world”. She gave me the Yellow Book for the flight home and I read it all. Later that summer, I came across a poster on 4th Avenue in Vancouver, with Babaji’s face on it inviting anyone who was interested to come to a yoga retreat in Oyama, BC, so a few friends and I determined to go check it out.
When I met Babaji for the first time I felt very shy, even though I felt such a connection with him. I had been exposed to yoga before, TM, at high school, and Iyengar through a friend, however I found his teaching just what I was looking for, a balance of meditation, pranayama and asana, with common sense sprinkled in. I joined the Vancouver Satsang, and when the group started looking for land and moved to Salt Spring Island, I determined that I would move and raise my young family there.
My family was raised on the island with the Centre being the core of our lives there. My children, Meera, Mason and Angelica all spent every summer getting ready for the retreat and the children’s Ramayana. We made costumes, practiced the dances and generally spent a lot of time at the Centre. They all went to the Centre School, and had a wonderful foundation with Usha, Frances and the other teachers. When they tell friends now about their experiences at the Centre, and the people they met and the schooling they had many think it sounds idyllic, and it was!
I also cherish the memories of the other things we did at the Centre back then. Sid used to bring in amazing musicians, and we could sit in the main room and listen to these amazing artists so close. It gave all of us an appreciation being able to see and hear so close to the musicians. There was the Christmas Faire, with all of us hanging out for the weekend with our crafts and wares. There were Satsang dinners, and of course Satsang itself with singing and readings. Way back then Babaji used to come and spend time with all of us on the island. I also had the honor of having Babaji and his entourage stay at my home.
When my grandson Devon was born, Meera and I went up to Santa Cruz to introduce him to Babaji. Of course Babaji stuck a lollipop into his mouth! This has been a tradition with all of my children and of course any of the children who visit Babaji. I don’t know if any my future grandchildren will meet Babaji, however his influence is in all of our lives has been profound and reliable. Therefore, he is in our hearts and that transmission from him to us will be there for them.
Nowadays, I am living in the Los Angeles area, helping my elderly father. I think because of Babaji’s teaching I can see this part of my life through the eyes of a yogi, being of service to loved ones, and having it be a part of my practice. And I have started a business here as well. It is called Devon’s Drawer, after my grandson and my father. I design and manufacture organic and natural outerwear for children. All my kids are involved in one way or another, so I see it as a family enterprise. And Devon gets to try on the items to determine size and fit, and he gets first choice!
Over the years my relationship with the Centre has been one of family, and I always love to come “home”. I moved off the island and away from the Salt Spring Centre some time ago, but I am glad that the foundation years for me and my family was shared with my Satsang friends. I have used Babaji’s teachings in Ashtanga Yoga as a blueprint for my life. I am a beginner after all of these years, still working on perfecting the Yamas, and Niyamas. I feel that yoga for me is a practice of starting over again and again! After all it is a practice.