- Dateline October 30, 2023, Himalayan Institute, Honesdale, Pennsylvania -
As I prepared for a residency at the Himalayan Institute, the 400-acre home ground of my spiritual tradition in the Poconos, I had no doubt I would find radiance on deep inner levels. The Himalayan Tradition holds that we are all illumined by an eternal light, one that guides us from the core of our spiritual heart. Little did I know that such luminosity would soon be demonstrated in a most spectacular way.
I rose very early my first morning to find my way outside to the Sri Vidya shrine for morning prayers, a sweet tradition of ancient Sanskrit mantras chanted daily at 6:00 a.m. and p.m. As I stepped out into the darkness, I tilted my eyes toward the heavens ... what was this mysterious sighting? Could it be ... just stars? It dawned on me that I was beholding a sky free of light pollution. I can't remember the last time I had seen a sky speckled with so many stars!
I couldn't really put my finger on it, but from day one, it was as if I already knew everyone I met. There are 75 or so permanent residents, and for the past two weeks, another 60 guests have convened for a collective of daily practices on the Sri Sukta, a collection of mantras which are cardinal to the Sri Vidya tradition. (I'll ... illumine ... more on that soon.) Granted, there were a handful of people I've met over the years while studying with Rod Stryker, whose teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait (fondly known as Panditji), is the spiritual head of H.I. Also, since I've been a member of the Himalayan Institute's online library of classes, talks, and courses for many years, I began to see the teachers whose classes I've been practicing from home. Live, in person!
So many things here have resonated with me in perfect pitch. One of the most precious is that in every single yoga class the word "nourishment" is a primary cue, or "bhav," which is Sanskrit for the attitude one cultivates in a practice. Nourishment abounds here. From the sumptuous meals (the chefs chant morning prayers to the goddess of the kitchen and food, *Annapurna, every morning before even touching the food), to walks in the woods, to Ayurvedic wellness treatments, and to the careful regard given to every last detail, this nourishment runs deep and true. The benefits of yoga are infinite, but for me, a focus on nourishment in an asana class is essential. While just about any asana practice will leave you feeling better, for me, nourishment as the "peak" rather than a pose has a non-pareil shelf life.
There has been another wondrous reveal in the classes and lectures. As I hear the teachings, it is not so much something I am being taught, or learning. It is more like I am remembering something already in me. In a Q & A session on the practice of the Sri Sukta last evening, Panditji spoke of the intentions of the mantras. He said that the 16 verses are a path to bring Sri, the Divine, to us, and us to her. He mentioned that one of the mantras reveals itself as the Knower in us who knows. That is when I knew:
This is why I do yoga.
In my next blog, I will be elaborating on that last sentence. For now, I invite you, next time you are on the mat or cushion, or reading the texts, be on the look out for that knower within. It will be more subtle than the asana instructions, but with careful attention and awareness, perhaps there will be a moment when you receive a teaching that feels like something you knew all along.
The remainder of my message is personal, humbling, and important.
I am reaching out to my local friends in Sonoma and Petaluma. My life and living situation, as well as that of my cats will be in upheaval when I return on November 28th. I am calling on the boon of *Annapurna, who grants the boon to "penetrate the mysteries of the cosmic drama." I am receiving great support from my practices here, and yet I am in the midst of such a cosmic drama. (I am human.) Below is a call for Prana and Yama as well as myself, hopefully together. If I cannot find a place where they may be with me, I'm looking for a temporary foster home for them for a few months beginning December 1st. Details are below, please contact me if you are interested, or have a potential resource for us.
Hi, we are Prana and Yama!
We are twin male indoor-only littermates, four years old. Our person, Barbra Brady, is reaching out to you as changes in her life and living situation leave us, too, looking for a temporary foster home for a few months, beginning December 1, 2023.
A few things about us: ● Our personalities are just as cute as our photos!
● We are the picture of health, and have lived indoors only. We were neutered at three months old.
● We are absolutely in love with one another, and have never been separated. We often sleep on top of each other, and love to groom each other.
● We love people, too! We are very socialized, loving, affectionate lap cats (Yama especially so).
● We have been living with an easy going medium sized dog who never bothered us in the least. We have not been introduced to any other dogs, nor any other cats. (Barbra knows a lot about how to introduce a new pet if that may play a factor.)
● Barbra is happy to cover the costs of all food, litter, and any potential vet visits.
● Please contact Barbra for more details. (707) 227-0044, email@example.com.
We are waiting for you!
Farewell for now. I send you all compassion, which Panditji says is defined by "humility and gratitude," and a big serving of nourishment in every way.