At the Root of Community – Newsletter Issue 6, 2015

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At the Root of Community Issue 6, 2015
“Community” comes from the root, “common.” To be in community means to share something in common.

At Yasodhara Ashram we are a community of place – we live together and share a beautiful land that generously nurtures us. We are a spiritual community, having in common a desire to know ourselves, to find meaning and to evolve. We are also part of a larger community of thinkers from around the world who have ideals and values in common, who question what is needed to survive and thrive in a world that is in crisis in so many ways.

The Ashram is dedicated to the spirit of unity, symbolized by the Temple that asks us to transcend differences and meet in the Light. The Temple’s dynamic new design suggests motion-generating power – a power to lift us to new levels of understanding and communication.

Can we see the interdependence of all living beings sustained by the same energy? Can we recognize this Earth as community and feel how truly extraordinary it is to find our common ground?


 Online Art Auction


Join us for our first-ever online art auction! Thanks to the generosity of artists and craftspeople, 18 unique pieces are on offer. See the items online and start your bidding. It’s easy! If you are in the East Shore area, come by over the summer to view the gallery in Mandala House. All funds raised by August 3l will go toward rebuilding the Temple.

At the community launch on June 6, local artist and organizer Shirley Wyngaard commented, “The auction is of mutual benefit – for the artists, for the community and for the Ashram.” The art display is also part of the Kootenay Lake Art Connections 2015 Artwalk.

The following local artists contributed: painters Garry Sly (our part-time chef), Deborah Thompson, Danielle Tonossi, Ted Wallace, Shirley Wyngaard; weaver Janet Wallace, potter Lea-Rae Belcourt, woodworker John Burton, broom-maker Luke Lewis and jeweler Galadriel Rael. Ashram-connected donors are: Amy Allcock, Lindsey Curtis, Donna-Lee Elke, Shanti Peck, Swami Jyotihananda, Swami Matananda, Swami Premananda and Sara Torrie.

See the beautiful array of work and read each artist’s story by clicking on the photos. Tell your friends. Share our Facebook post. What a creative way to contribute toward construction of our new Temple!


 Community Connectedness

On June 6, one year after the Temple fire, we invited our local community to a presentation of the new Temple of Light design.

People from around Kootenay Lake expressed how much the Temple meant to them and Paris Marshall Smith, director of community relations, recognized how the fire brought our surrounding community together in an even closer way.

Fire Chief Cory Medhurst said on behalf of the volunteer fire department and the ambulance providers, “We’ve never felt more at home fighting a fire than we did here at the Ashram. You treated us great, with food and drinks and just made sure we were okay.” Swami Lalitananda responded, “You were here so long – two solid days. It was inspiring for all of us to have your example of selfless service.”

Local contractors Adolf Smith, Alan Hughes and Michael Jutes were impressed that building techniques have advanced to enable the construction of the complex, light-filled design. Much of the building will be prefabricated, then erected quite quickly onsite. Creston Mayor Ron Toyota enjoyed a tour to the transitional Temple, which will hold the space until construction starts in spring 2016.

Visit the Temple website to view the new design, which has a proposed completion date of winter 2016 and budget of 2 million dollars.

(US donors click here to donate to the ADHP)


Upcoming Courses

Here is a sample of upcoming courses. See more in the 2015 Calendar.

Bharata Natyam Dance Workshop and Class with Anusha: Join guest teacher Anusha Fernando, the Artistic Director of Vancouver’s Shakti Dance, for a weekend of exploration (for those with some dance experience) or for a two-hour class (no dance experience required). This cherished dance form of India is characterized by humility, discipline, grace and rigorous technique.
July 3-5

10 Days of Yoga: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal: Give yourself ten days to expand your understanding of who you are and who you want to be – ten days of reprieve from stress in a safe and nurturing place of reflection. You will leave with tools to create more meaning, joy and relaxation in your life and with more trust in your ability to live a balanced life.
July 16-26, August 20-30, October 15-25

Luminous Vision – Building your Personal Temple of Light: Use your imagination to create a beautiful sanctuary for the Most High within you. In this workshop, Swami Jyotihananda will lead you on an exploration of Temple as metaphor. What is your foundation of character? What challenges do you face and how can you elevate and open to the Light? Participation in this workshop will help support the rebuilding of the new Temple of Light.
July 17-19

Light & Vibration with Swami Lalitananda: What is Energy and how does it manifest? What are the secrets of the mind and heart? How do the mystical teachings of yoga help us to create the kind of world we want to live in? This special four-day workshop is led by Swami Lalitananda, editor of Light & Vibration, Swami Radha’s final book, a culmination of her wisdom and teachings.
July 19-23

Community: Work & Practice: This program is a unique opportunity to experience yoga, work and community life at one of the most enduring spiritual communities in North America. This is a one-week work and study program, with a balanced focus on the practice of Karma Yoga (selfless service) and introductory classes in the practices of Yasodhara Yoga – including Mantra, Hatha, Dreams, Kundalini, Divine Light Invocation, Sacred Dance and reflection.
August 14-21, September 16-23

Upcoming Outreach

Our fall Eastern Canada tour includes a weekend retreat plus workshops in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax. Learn more. Check it out; tell a friend.

 Bridging Spiritual Communities

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A California Outreach excursion by Swami Matananda in May created a meaningful bridge between two spiritual communities that Robert Phelps calls home.

With ties to Swami Radha and Yasodhara Ashram dating back to 1972, Robert wanted to connect the Ashram with his current Unity Church in Tustin, California. Swami Matananda responded by offering a two-hour interactive discussion, including slide show, to 20 of his church members, followed by satsang in Robert’s home.

“The Unity churches were always open to Swami Radha in her early days of putting the Ashram on the map,” notes Swami Matananda. “As their name implies, the people are very open. They are interested and curious and seeking. I taught them the Divine Light Invocation, and they were articulate and very personal in their reflections.”

Robert comments, “The Divine Light Invocation is a golden thread that keeps me connected with the Ashram and the teachings from afar. I hope to facilitate many more visits of Yasodhara yogis and yoginis.”

Swami Matananda returned from the busy city with a fresh appreciation for the bounty of teachings and inspiration of Yasodhara Ashram.

In other outreach news, Swami Jyotihananda provided an uplifting series of workshops on Vancouver Island and Kelowna.

Check out our fall Outreach plans for Eastern Canada.


 Choosing the Light

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Chuck (Charlie) McNab recognizes the power of choice that led him out of darkness to a new life path. Living at the Ashram for more than a year as a karma yogi, he seamlessly integrates Yasodhara Yoga practices with renewed practice of his aboriginal Cree Nation traditions.

My life is different now, like night and day. I’m walking a new path – a positive lighter path. Now I let go of concerns and offer it all to the Light.

Taking the 10 Days of Yoga in May was a rich in-depth experience. I came away with a better knowing of what truly works for me in a practical way. I know I can start my day however I want; accessing the Light or the fountain of joy or peace really works for me.

So many things about the Ashram support me on my path. The natural environment with the lake and wilderness, and the spirit animals like frogs and eagles, bring me close to Mother Nature. And I like being among people from all over the world who have the same spiritual goal of embracing the Light.

Having a tipi (something Swami Radha introduced in the 1970s) is a bonus! When I do smudges, it’s like I’m at satsang.


 Video – Communication and Community

In this powerful video from 1999, Swami Radhananda talks about the importance of listening. She encourages us to “move away from self-centredness and into a wider, more expansive view of your world… Can you listen to that part of yourself? Can you listen to what’s happening around you?” Watch the video

 Working with Trust

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After working with the Ashram for years as a select tree faller, Riondel resident James Linn speaks of building a relationship based on mutual trust.

If I hadn’t moved down the road 16 years ago, I wouldn’t even know what an ashram is. Now the Yasodhara Ashram community and I are close friends. The energy here is good; the people are engaging and kind. I’ve seen a number of examples of the Ashram contributing locally (for example to the school’s hot lunch program and to people who are ill), which shows they know what it means to give and how that can benefit people. They’re an awesome part of our community.

My work with the trees at the Ashram has three components – fire prevention, dealing with hazardous trees, and encouraging light into some spaces. There is a lot for the Ashram to manage and be proactive about.

Often I mill the trees into lumber and beams that are used around the property. Right now, we are making benches, so the trees continue to give.

In our work together, I’ve shown that I know a little about what I’m talking about. I try to think like a tree.

(Read more on the Ashram’s sustainability and land stewardship approach on the website.)


 Grounded and Balanced

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Two months after joining the Ashram Internship program, Natalie Wall readily lists the advantages she’s discovered to living in spiritual community.

I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I’ve found my centre and grounded myself. I’m in a balanced place because the Ashram likes to keep things in balance and takes care of everything. All I have to do is show up and do my best.

Being part of a group of interns is great. We are all different and balance each other out. We learn to communicate even when we disagree. The people here allow me to be who I am.

I’m feeling the physical benefit of Hatha Yoga each morning. My spine is straighter; my posture has improved. And the weekly workshops, such as Dreams and Mantra, that are part of the internship, are amazing. I’m precise and concise now in my reflections.

I’m glad to be staying for six to eight months with my garden internship. I know it will be transforming. Everything is so practical and grounding. I’m more present in life than ever before.

(We currently have internship openings in Hospitality, Food Systems and Preserving Kitchen.)


 Freeing the Creative Mind

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Poet Dayna Davis from Cortez Island, was asked an intriguing question while she was at the Ashram for an Artist Retreat.

People asked me, “Oh, you live on Cortez? It’s just as beautiful as the Ashram. Why would you come here for your artist retreat?” I knew it was something else I was coming for: the intention of what’s being held here – to wake up from our patterns, to look deeply at ourselves. Everyone is working on this and you can’t help but be affected by it.

I realized that I wasn’t strong enough to do it on my own and this was a very big realization. I also knew that I needed other people who had the same orientation to help me move towards this in my daily life.

The yoga practices here focus on integration of mind and the body. Having an everyday reminder freed up my creative mind and helped dissolve what was blocking me from being creative, fully alive and connected to source. When you are reflecting on your mind and you are going deeply into your body with these practices – chanting, stilling the mind – then your unconscious is going to become clearer and be inspired by this. For me as a poet, and beginner painter, it was very rich.

Small Bridge

Quiet and still

in the green light

of my morning practice


a small bridge

arches over a stream.

Read more poems written by Dayna during her retreat.


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The Saraswati Salon

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Living in Spirit – Elicia Marie Brisby

“As I kept going deeper, I discovered more of the truth I was seeking.”

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News at a Glance

Interfaith Dialogue on the Environment – Swami Lalitananda reports: On June 15 and 16, I joined a diverse group of spiritual leaders for a dialogue with conservationists to investigate whether faith groups and spiritual traditions can help further the efforts of ecologists. The meeting at Whitefish, Montana included representatives from Islam, Judaism, the Blackfoot Nation, as well as Christian denominations and myself, representing a unifying approach to yoga. I was happy to hear from such a range of voices and to find common ground among us and the ecologists, who impressed me with their deep commitment to the Earth and its interdependent networks of beings. More to come!

Community Get-togethers – We open our doors to the local community for the 20th annual Strawberry Social on Saturday, June 27 from 1 to 4 pm. As always, there will be music, bargains at the used book sale and a KidsZone. Three weeks later, the Ashram will take part in Crawford Bay’s Starbelly Jam, a family music event that attracts people from far and wide.

Natural Beekeeping – We are enjoying the benefits of a new colony of bees obtained through the natural beekeeping Queen Bee Project of Christina Yahn. Now living in two hives built to be similar to their habitat in the wild, the bees’ pollinating power is producing wonderful crops at the Ashram. These bees were raised over many generations to be indigenous to this area and are an incredibly intelligent and well-organized community.

Extended Taste of the Ashram – We added a new dimension to the Taste of the Ashram program by including dinner, satsang and an overnight stay. All this in addition to the regular program of a hatha yoga class, lunch and guided tour with an overview of our environmental initiatives and gardens. Available July 4-5, July 18-19, Aug 1-2, Aug 22-23, Sept 5-6.

Temple Media Coverage – Our press releases to announce the design for the new Temple of Light resulted in articles on the Canadian Architect website, Nelson Star, East Shore Mainstreet and others. Swami Lalitananda and Swami Samayananda also had inspiring interviews with local and regional radio stations.

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Personal Practice Guide
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Swami Radha encourages us to think about what having a ‘pure heart’ would mean. And what is the connection to listening to the still small voice.

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Reflection QuestionsCommunication occurs on many levels, internal and external, and has an all-pervading influence on the quality of our lives. Take time to consider how communication plays out for you and how you would like to enhance its role. Thanks to members of the Yasodhara Yoga European Network for providing these reflections.

  1. Do the Little Bridge pose with some of the questions suggested in the The Inner life of Asanas (p. 107): Creating bridges is a sacred activity. What bridges do you want to build? How can you make yourself a bridge of communication, understanding, service? To whom do you want to reach out?
  2. Practise the So’ham Hamsa breath for a few minutes.(Kundalini Yoga for the West, p. 217) Then bring in one or more of the following questions: When have you been touched by what someone said? When can you say that something touches your heart? What do you mean by this? What does it mean to be a friend? (Devi of Speech, p. 80)
  3. In Light and Vibration (p. 66-67) Swami Radha says, “Learning to dialogue with the Light or divine being in yourself is like learning a new language, a new way of communication.” How do you communicate with the Light, with the heart?
  4. “Speech has a tremendous effect on the direction of our mind and the evolution of our life. We must respect and take responsibility for what we say audibly and inaudibly. By refining our speech we can also open to a sacred potential beyond speech, the gift of the Devi, the knowing of the heart.” (Living the Practice, p. 187-8) Take a specific period of time, for example, a week, to observe the effect of speech in your mind and in your life. Summarize your learning and make reminder notes for yourself.

For more Teaching and Reflection ideas, click here.



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