Back from the Deep(ening roots) end
Home. I am finally home. I spent about 40 days in Canada, 10 days exploring Montreal, and the rest of the time exploring myself in Northern Quebec. What do I mean by exploring myself? So much. In fact I have been putting off writing here for so long because I am still processing and undergoing what I feel to be a complete life transformation. Where do I begin!? How much to share here? I want to give my experience justice because it was truly amazing, but I have to accept that a lot of my learning cannot be described.
Before I start trying to explain my journey I wanted to point out that I am aware that I sound like one of those just found religion cheesy “my life is changed and I am so happy” people who I have always doubted and poked fun at. But who cares, I am glad to be the brunt of my past jokes now.
Where to start. I need some kind of structure to my postings because there is a lot to share. There is the spirituality aspects, raw food, permaculture, organic gardening experience, gardening workshops, amazing people, reading, discussions, the Art of Living Foundation and overwhelming amounts of inspiring, fascinating books, music, movies, discussions etc.
I guess the most logical place to start is the beginning of the internship including the first course we completed through the Art of Living called yes plus.
So we all piled in the vans in Montreal and headed north, none of us knowing what to expect, or really what the Art of Living was. The first night we joined everyone else at the Ashram for dinner and then after dinner went to sat sang; this was one of my favorite parts. Every night after dinner everyone goes upstairs to the meditation hall and people play music, sing and then we would have discussions with Swami Ji (more on this later). Anyways that was tons of fun I loved singing loudly, and probably terribly, but I’m pretty sure no one heard me because they were also swept up in the moment and fun.
One of the first exercises we did was explain briefly how we got to this point in our lives. Here is what I wrote:
I grew up in a family that was conscious about healthy food, conservation and exercise. At a young age I was heavily influenced by my family and my brother who has a degree from Berkeley in Environmental Science. But, my life changed dramatically when I started attending university and read increasing numbers of books about food, agriculture, environmental crises, etc. I changed my major from health ecology to journalism and environmental studies. I am inspired by environmental journalists like Wendell Berry, Paul Hawkens, David Orr and Michael Pollan just to name a few. I joined the local food co-op and started a group on campus that is dedicated to bringing a cafe to campus that would serve local, organic foods. Sustainable agriculture is the environmental issue I am most passionate about because it is such an integrative subject that everyone on the planet can relate to and take part in. Everyone must eat to survive, and I love the community I have found since working towards getting more local food on campus. I also really love cooking and appreciating and celebrating food, thus is just feels natural and necessary to learn how to grow food organically. I want to be able to inspire people to learn and serve as a role model to encourage other to grow food for themselves and take part in their local food community. I have had incredible, fun and intelligent role model who allowed me to realize my fit and passion in food and especially my desire to grow my own.
Expectations: I want to learn and feel comfortable teaching others how to grown their own food. I want a thorough understanding of each step in gardening and how to integrate my knowledge into a lifestyle. The health, wellness and gardening aspect drew me to this program and I want others to be encouraged and positively influenced by my experience. I would like to become a better role model-and I believe the best way to do this is to lead by example with actions. I also hope to become more involved in yoga and meditation and let in lead me consciously and positively through my life. the biggest goal I have is to build a foundation that integrates knowledge about everything in life I am passionate about.
Oh how my wants and desires were surpassed. My next series of postings will go into more detail about the different organic gardening workshops, permaculture, biodynamic gardening, my experiences, raw food, meditation, etc etc etc.
But for now this one is dedicated to the Yes Plus course. These are basically inspirational classes for youth where you learn a spiritual practice, amazing knowledge, group work and leadership skills, communication, and endless other incredible information. The best thing about the Yes course was that I am not worried I will forget anything. The experience went to my core, the feeling of centeredness and the practice-well they feel like they are deeply engrained in my being. Basically for several days our amazing Yes teacher Amanda led us through different exercises that taught our group all of the aforementioned skills. Because this is such an experiential learning course I strongly suggest to anyone who is interested to find a class and take it in their local area. You can find courses online at <http://us.artofliving.org/index.html> Just search “local info”, please contact me if you have any questions!!
But I’ll attempt to share a few knowledge tips and experiences here.
- Give your 100% in life. Here is a short story that exemplifies this:
There once was a king who was told about an amazing sage.
Everyone told the king, “This sage is so great, he is so wise”
The king was curious, why is this man so great? so wise?? So, the king decided to follow the sage for several days.
On the first day the king observed that the man woke up early, then he drank his tea. The man then did some work in his garden, and then had his lunch. After he met with friends, then he took a walk and then he went to bed. For several days the king observed this man and continued to wonder, why is this man so great?! He thought, ‘I wake up, I work, I take walks, I meet with friends, I eat’
After around a week of frustration and endless observation of this man the king had enough. He decided to ask the great sage why he was so special. To which the sage replied: “When I drink tea, I drink tea. When I work I work. When I eat I eat. When I meet with friends, I meet with friends. When I walk I walk. And when I sleep, I sleep”
The sage did everything he was doing 100%. He did not meet with friends and think about his work, or eat and think about the past or future. He lived in the present and did each action with focus, enjoyment and present mindedness.
- Responsibility is taken, not given. Power lies in taking responsibility.
- A good leader makes everyone around him a great leader.
- Do not live life in pursuit of happiness, life live as an expression of happiness. Happiness is not circumstantial, life is too short, relax, we have a choice to be happy every minute of our lives.
- Wisdom opens us to other people.
- Act from a space of love and compassion. Actions must start with love, from love. Love with a sprinkle of innocence.
Above is just a fraction, a truly minute amount of the knowledge we were given. Everything we learned was a gift, a truly amazing gift to guide us through life and I am so happy to have this resource to learn more.
Of course, everything was made more meaningful because of the people I was surrounded by. I feel like I left the internship with several new best friends, ones that I can have real conversations with, who I care about, belong to, and love.