The Temple is ready!! The Assisi 2014 Sangha is all together in Assisi after a full day (or more) of traveling.
In Assisi, I am more aware that life is unfolding, regardless of my intentions or efforts. My mind opens to the reality of this moment and all that is shares. it doesn’t mean that things are quiet and peaceful; they are just real and meaningful. That being said, this story of the week’s blog may reveal itself in a very nonlinear fashion – consider yourself initiated into the experience of Yoga in Assisi with Mirka.
Mirka and I were speaking this morning of an experience she had many years ago with a beloved teacher in Assisi named father a Anthony, a priest who referred to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as the ‘golden chariot’ of spiritual teachings. How beautiful is that?
As she unfolded some of his amazing teachings, she told me about a special moment with this teacher. She said how powerful it was and added, “of course I was gushing blood from my nose” and went on to describe the rest story. The massive nose bleed was a meaningless aside in the greater story but striking as it shook up the image of the moment in my mind. I so often think of spiritual experiences as serene events (though life too often reminds me that this is not the case).
This story came as we were working towards the idea of Francis’ greeting of
“Pax et Bonum” (Peace and Wellness) that he and his followers shared. Mirka’s story (and visual shock of gushing blood) made me think of reading about St. Francis and St. Clare. Their bodies were ALWAYS struggling with some from of illness. However, all of their profounds experiences and transformations took place in the midst of disease and imperfection of body. Francis, who suffered from many painful conditions at times in his life still walked around greeting people with “Pax Bunum” – peace & wellness. These are not qualities of body but of mind. Coming from the western media which associates ‘wellness’ with affluence and health, this is a very different connotation for these words; much deeper and more profound meaning.
So, as out beloved friends arrived from around the world, we kept this message – peace & wellness. This is what Assisi helps to cultivate to those who pay attention. I have been here twice and have had profound realizations, but in my recollection of those moments of insight, I forget the physical struggles I faced in both journeys. At the time, those physical struggles seemed so big; upon reflection of my spiritual journey, there were just food for the fire and, in a way, not really suffering but nourishment.
The Sangha gathered in our chapel for the first time. Twenty five of us shared and connected. Mirka and Assisi have a way of helping people find openness. and within that openness, we found we that even the strangers among us fit perfectly with this group. Some felt very strongly called by the stories of Assisi, some just wanted a chance to dive into the experience of these yoga teachings far from the daily life, and others just came because they knew it would nourish their hearts. We welcomed each other, and the Sangha has begun! Pax & Bonum, Pace & Bene, Peace & Wellness!!!
In Honor of our days of travel and transition, I would like to share thoughts from Lynne on the day before departure. She had never met Mirka before she arrived and is new to the lineage of Viniyoga that Mirka shares here.
“Tomorrow we drive to Assisi … for the yoga retreat. Jentry, Tammy and I are heading off early, early, early for a rather long drive … on roads I’ve never traveled … through towns I’ve never seen. Tammy asked me to write down some of my thoughts and expectations … from a rookie’s perspective.
Expectations … first of all, I try to live without expectations. “Expectations are premeditated resentments” … and I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life letting go of resentments. I’m much happier when I’m able to take things as they come and leave it up to God to guide me. As a side note, God is, for me, the easiest way to say “Universal Spirit”, “Higher Power”, “Spider Grandmother” or whatever name people have assigned to that unwavering, perpetual, omnipotent essence of peace and love.
So, I’m headed into this with no expectations and am open to all the new experiences coming my way.
But a few hopes … it would be wonderful to make new friends and learn new ways to grow on my own spiritual path and maybe even combine the two.
And a few achievable goals … bread, cheese, wine. Maybe figs, if they are in season.
And a sprinkling of fear and envy … let’s face it, as the years go on, there are small indications that maybe, just maybe, I’m not 33 anymore. This is the year I’m twice as old as my daughter. I like naps. I love to walk but need to rest from time to time. My joints talk to me more than they used to. I just need to remember to be kind to myself and do things in my own time. All of my self-doubts are wrapped up in fear and envy. Back in Texas, I have a special place where I leave my fear and envy before going into my yoga class.
Now back to my daughter, Jentry. From the moment she was born until this very instant, she makes me smile and laugh and I am grateful to have her in my life. Well, except for a few moments from the teenage years … but, well, who wasn’t a bit rebellious? We have had lots for joy … and some sorrow … some exciting adventures and many mundane moments in life that are actually the important ones! To be able to share this time with her … no husbands, no kids, no housecleaning or cooking or watering the garden or dog walking … just us … well, that in itself is a gift.”