Francesca Cogorno first came to the Ashram in 2010 and recently moved to Nelson after a five-year residency here. A fully trained Yasodhara teacher, she was involved in many aspects of day-to-day life at the Ashram. She explains how the practice of Sacred Dance has informed her growth and what Karma Yoga has taught her.
Being at the Ashram transformed my ability to practice self-discipline. I’ve had some challenging times in the past five years. My father passed away and the Temple fire was shortly after. I’ve learned to keep lifting and use life’s circumstances as a way to appreciate what is there rather than try to find something else.
Sacred dance has become a very important practice for me. My mantra practice showed me that showing up regularly, bringing myself forward, and watching the practice expand is transformational. The same is true for Sacred Dance, karma yoga and any practice.
I know that dance is linked with my life’s purpose. I have parts of me that are very rational and controlling, which I can bring into sacred dance through its precision. But that’s not its essence. I have to allow something else to take over beyond the details.
As I developed my interest in dance, I would get glimpses of setting myself aside and letting this Divine part take over. It leads my movements until I recognize them as my own, as my home, my language. I feel so nourished when I allow this other part to come through. After my practice I can move forward in my day that much stronger.
I’m a school teacher and when I came to the Ashram I wasn’t sure how I wanted that to look in my professional life. After training and beginning to teach here, similar obstacles kept coming up that I experienced in my career. I had unrealistic expectations of myself. I began to question, thinking that if I ran into issues here and outside of here, what’s the point? Then another part of me would say, but I love this.
It’s the same with my practice. I don’t wake up every day with fireworks thinking I can’t wait to do my practice! But a part of me knows I’ll enjoy it. I’ve learned that good things take time and energy. I’ve learned the importance of sticking with what I’m doing even through the difficult parts, that a challenge isn’t a sign of failure. It’s about the power of commitment.
At the Ashram I’ve worked in a lot of different areas these past five years. My biggest take-home lesson is to let go of titles and roles. Karma Yoga taught me to bring quality and care into whatever I’m doing. When I focus on the process of it all, I find a really rich learning environment.