I would easily call myself a feminist. And yet there’s a part in me that hates women. It cringes when certain women speak with confidence and gets annoyed when certain women take control of a situation. Women, that this part for some reason, doesn’t think deserve to speak or have power.
When I realized that this was in me, I was very startled and saddened. How can I be an advocate for change in others and at the same time harbour this part within myself?
And as I begin to look at it more closely, I am realizing that it is an old pattern in me and that it’s easy to indulge. It’s easy for me to slip into annoyance or disgust and in some ways I feel like I can’t help it. But on another level I know I have choice and when I realize what a destructive part of me is speaking it makes it easier to step back and not indulge.
Some people say that spending time at an Ashram is running away from the problems of the world, running away from the real work. In an article on living in spiritual community Bo Lozoff writes that most people who come to his Ashram want a life that’s easier and when they arrive they realize really it’s harder. Most people don’t last more than three months.
At the Ashram I live at we are asked to genuinely look at ourselves and to take responsibility for our actions – including our thoughts. And sometimes it’s totally ugly – like this part of myself that hates.
But if I’m going to advocate for change in the world, I have to start with myself. And to start with myself I have to take the time to really see what’s happening for me.
And so I’m taking the time – finding out what’s really happening. And as I do I can work for change within myself, live what I believe in and at the same time work for change in the world.
 Lozoff, Bo. “Life in Spiritual Community,” Ascent Magazine, Issue 11, Fall 2001.
Pioneer in bringing Yoga to the West, Swami Radha writes, “Maya [or illusion] is seeing the form without the essence.”
When I get caught up in my Stats page – reading about how many people “like” my blog – that’s where I get caught, in illusion. I see the form without the essence. I get caught up in the details and forget the purpose.
I started the blog to learn how to become who I want to be, to learn to live my ideals. And so as long as I’m learning I’m connected. So I can step back from worrying about Likes, Followers, Marketing My Message and relax into the process.
Maybe one day I will have dazzling internet fame – and maybe I won’t – but that is not my purpose.
I am learning already. The victory is already won.
Today marks a new beginning. I am just past the half-way mark of my time at Yasodhara Ashram. I have lived here for a year and as of November 1st I have less then a year less than a year left of my current commitment. As I pass this half way point I am beginning to take stock, and look at what I’ve learned.
One thing I have learned a lot about is the power of reflection – most recently through working on my Book Report project. In this project, I see what amazing things can happen when I write and share my ideals, goals, challenges and victories. I commit to them in a more powerful way and they become more real.
One day – when I was trying to fit all of my insights into one book report to imbue them with this amazing power that I have experienced book reports to have – I realized, ‘This must not be the only way.’ And I don’t want it to be the only way! I only have so many book reports left, I don’t want to lose this power when they’re all completed. So I asked myself – what is the essence of a book report? Where is does this power come from?
I saw three main components. One – Writing down my ideals, goals and what I am learning. Two – Refinement: editing and really clarifying what I want to express. And Three – Sharing these refined insights.
And so my new beginning is a blog – a place where I can share what I am learning and tap into the mystical power of writing, refining and sharing.
Welcome! In this past year I have also learned an amazing amount from listening to others tell their stories. My hope is as I learn and grow through writing that those who read about my experiences can learn something from them too.
And an especially warm welcome to friends and family. My other hope for this blog is for it to be a way of sharing my experiences with those who I care deeply about but who live far away. I have begun to post some poems and stories I have written this year which capture my experience and what I have learned – so feel free to explore!
This is my first step on a new journey – my very first post! And it is my first victory on a new adventure…
I recently started reading Rolling Thunder by Doug Boyd, a book my sister Renee gave me for Christmas last year. This passage really struck me,
“It’s not very easy for you people to understand these things because understanding is not knowing the kind of facts that your books and teachers talk about. I can tell you that understanding begins with love and respect. It begins with respect for the Great Spirit, and the Great Spirit is the life that is in all things – all the creatures and the plants and even the rocks and minerals. All things – and I mean all things – have their own will and their own way and their own purpose; this is what is to be respected.”
“Such respect is not a feeling or an attitude only. It’s a way of life. Such respect means that we never stop realizing and never neglect to carry out our obligation to ourselves and our environment.”
Of all the teachings I have heard, these words are most important and the most valuable for the contemporary aspirant upon the path of Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. No teaching for the path of action could be more fundamental or primary than the teachings of love and respect- for oneself, for one’s world, and for the Great Spirit, which is all life in all things. The aspirant can perform no greater service for his world than to be mindful that his acts, even his thoughts and speech, become a part of the condition of the world.
I’ve lived at Yasodhara Ashram for over a year doing Karma Yoga, selfless service, and in reading this passage I am able to better understand what Karma Yoga, the yoga of action, is all about. Karma Yoga is right action. It is every thought, every word, every interaction.
And I’m realizing that it’s a yogic practice I’ve been doing for a long time. As a child, I tried to “be a good person,” as an activist I was trying to make positive change in the world. And I my journey has been refining what Right Action really is. I have been learning that the word kindness doesn’t mean doing whatever the other person wants, or taking responsibility for another person’s pain. True kindness is supporting each other to take responsibility for ourselves.
And I have this warrior part of me and I am realizing that this warrior has to do Karma Yoga. This warrior must act. Right now my Karma Yoga is growing nutritious food for this community that I care about and being kind (using my new definition) to people who come into the garden. What’s next is not totally clear but it will definitely be Karma Yoga.
Thank you to all who have offered support – visible and invisible – that continues to allow me to become who I am meant to be.
 Boyd, Doug. Rolling Thunder. New York: Dell Publishing House, 1974. p. 51-52.
The warrior of my heart is a dancer.
As she dances she weaves the invisible threads that create all that is.
She weaves the warmth into a mother’s voice as she welcomes her child into her arms,
She weaves pale blues and pinks into the sky as the sun sets behind the mountains,
And on a summer’s evening, it is she who weaves the freshness into the breeze.
She weaves compassion into our hearts when a friend is in need,
The harmonies into our voices as we sing together with love,
And as I sit alone beside the lake, she silently weaves the peace into the stillness.
It is she who weaves the healing into laughter,
The joy into love,
And the softness into my heart.
She is the weaver of the stars at night and the light at the break of day.
And she is always there,
As she weaves the miracles into each moment,
That are just waiting to be seen.
The Intuitive Warrior,
Strong and Fierce.
Hears the call and prepares for battle,
She knows that this is a war that must be fought,
That her work will not be in vain.
Her hips are wide,
She oils her leather armour with love,
Singing softly to herself.
When you look her in the eyes you see,
The intensity of her fierce heart,
The fire of her passion,
And the depth of her love.
Her children know that she is fierce,
And that she loves them fiercely.
But their fear is little,
Compared to the fear of her opponent.
Fighting her on the ground is like,
Fighting a tornado.
As she leaps and spins,
A whirling mass of kicking legs and sharp elbows.
She will only stab you once,
And it will be in the heart.
She wields her dagger with precision and grace,
And there is no more suffering than is necessary.
For she knows her work is sacred,
Not to be done carelessly but with honour for the opponent and the task.
I am this warrior of the heart,
The most fierce variety because I know that my convictions are true and that justice must be served.
There is no stopping courage that comes from the heart.
My love for you feels like a mountain.
Slow and stable,
Strong and solid,
It has the qualities of silence and great power.
And typically when I’ve encountered this type of power;
Particularly in a situation like ours where romance has shifted into friendship,
The intensity of this power would terrify me.
From this place of fear I would try to destroy it,
Leaving my hands bloody as you would expect if trying to squash rock with bare hands.
And there is still an entanglement I am trying to better understand.
This entanglement of an intimate sexual history and present sexual desires.
Sometimes I confuse this entanglement with the power and legitimacy of the mountain,
Although they are just vines on it’s surface.
And I know that their time is to be shorter than the time of stone.
The mountain is not going anywhere.
And I’m finally learning that my role is not to try and move it.