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Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Sage Next Door: a Trip to Jersey and Beyond

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       Since I have moved back to New York, I have felt a little lost and disconnected. It takes an adjustment to move and then to move yet again- even if the final territory is familiar. In an effort to make some positive changes in a somewhat muddled and distracted state, I signed up for a weekend retreat. It was easy enough to make reservations for the Yoga and Hiking Weekend at Mohican Outdoor Center. I received my online confirmation and my informational packet. I packed the suggested items on their list in preparation for the upcoming activities and possible weather conditions. No list could have prepared me for that weekend.

       In hindsight, it is pretty funny. People go to far flung monasteries in Tibet in search of a spiritual awakening. I stumbled upon it in Jersey of all places with no such intentions at all.

       I am no yogini but no complete novice to it as well. This weekend was about Kundalini yoga- all focused on the breath. One instructor, named Megan, was dressed from tip to toe in white. I initially met Megan at the first evening’s get together at Blueberry lodge. She is a plump, shiny-faced lady with long straggly white-blond hair. She sat on the sofa and spoke energetically as the weekend’s participants munched away on cookies. Her blue eyes connected to you as she spoke. Every time she was around, I noticed how magnetic she was- how others would pause in their conversations to listen to her. Her joyful spirit simply pulls you in and it was a lovely thing to be around. 

       During our first full day, while our cross-legged selves sat in the creaky boat house, she told us a story. There was an experiment using injured vets that had lost their limbs and healthy participants. Both groups had to do yoga. The healthy group did the postures completely. The injured parties did what they could and imagined themselves doing the postures perfectly even if the reality was quite different. When studied, it was found that the vets received the same benefits as those who were able to fully engage with their physical body. Their brains activated similarly to the control group because of this mental focus. By extension, no matter where we were in our personal practice, we should envision ourselves doing everything- postures and breath work- perfectly. I realized that for me Kundalini yoga was about acceptance. I accept myself as I am but visualize my best self and intentions. I think that this can be applied to our approach to living as well. Acceptance becomes our gateway to other experiences, allowing ourselves to respond and not react and to genuinely hear ourselves and others. Thank you for that first little drop Megan. 

       I met Megan again as I was quickly doing my New York stride along the graveled path from point A to B, or in this case from the Boat house to the lodge. She smiled her bright smile, brought her hands together in prayer position and ‘Sat Nam-ed’ me. I slowed and greeted her as she explained the significance of the phrase. ‘Sat Nam’ is used as a greeting to recognize the spirit within another – the awareness of another soul. ‘Sat Nam’ also can be interpreted as ‘Truth is my destiny’. I Sat Nam-ed the little guru back, not realizing the depth of awareness and recognition to come.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 31 December 2014

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