Monday, September 17, 2018

My Meditation Retreat at Tushita

During my visit to India earlier this year, I attended a ten-day Introduction to Buddhism & Meditation retreat at Tushita, a Tibetan Buddhist center in Dharamsala.

An assemblage of shoes outside the meditation hall.

As there would be no contact with the outside world for the ten days, the hours leading up to the retreat felt as though I was preparing for my impending death. There would be no connection with friends or family; we had to surrender our phones and laptops. In fact, we had to surrender all electronics -- cameras, eBook readers, iPods. All matters needed to be tidied up in advance; all final communications had to be made, and all final electronic pleasures had to be enjoyed.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Van of Valpo & Pussy Terror

After our two-month cycling trip through Patagonia in early 2016, El Mecánico and I spent six weeks living in Valparaíso. Though two years have since passed, it's time to tell you about The Van of Valpo & Pussy Terror.

During our weeks in Valparaíso, El Mecánico and I settled into a wonderful routine. In the mornings, we worked independently on our own projects. In the afternoons, we meandered together through the Chilean city's tangled cobblestone streets, staircases, and alleys.

Valparaíso's homes and buildings, cloaked in a patchwork quilt of colors and adorned with eye-inticing murals, are the epicenter of the city's Bohemian culture. As we walked through the city, we searched every wall and nook'n'cranny for our favorite murals. Our mutual awe of the city's abundant effervescence inspired a unique, creative energy between me and El Mecánico. (See Valparaíso: Murals #1 and Valparaíso: Murals #2 for photographs of our favorite murals.)

On one of our afternoon strolls, we came across a van whose windows were painted an opaque white. The van was parked at the base of a dense thicket of morning glories, reaching a hundred feet into the sky. A painting on the port of the van depicted the back side of a man in a horizontal position, his head resting atop a pillow. Along the top of the van were the words "Pussy Terror."

The notorious Van of Valpo.

What did it mean? Was the man sleeping? Was he dead? Why was there a gold crown floating inches above the man's head? What was "Pussy Terror"?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Volunteering with the Tibetan Refugees in India

This globe sits on the table in the library at LHA Charitable Trust in Dharamsala:

Tibet was hand-drawn onto the globe.

This globe pretty much sums up the Tibetan situation.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Reflections on My Yoga Learnings

One thing I learned from my 200-hour yoga teacher training course is that the way an instructor understands and internalizes yoga is the way the instructor should teach yoga. Aside from an exception here-and-there (Bikram yoga comes to mind), there is no formula for how yoga should be taught. As students learning to teach yoga, we should therefore embrace what makes sense and feels right to us and leave the rest behind. I was exposed to a broad array of yogic knowledge in my month-long class. A lot of that knowledge I will take with me; some I will leave behind.

Tara diagrams how the mounds of the feet keep
us grounded while the arches of the feet lift us up.
[Photo: Katerina Zavarygina]

There are a few reasons I decided to do my teacher training in India. For one, India is well-regarded as the birthplace of yoga. The history of yoga in the United States, as is true for most things in the country, is relatively young. Plus, the yoga of the western world has been heavily modified to conform with western mentalities. I wanted to study yoga closer to its source, to better understand the essence of yoga.

Friday, April 6, 2018

An Unexpected Take-Away from My Yoga Course

My 200-hour yoga teacher training with Siddi Yoga is complete!

I finished!

I knew I wanted to do an intensive yoga teacher training -- taking a month-long course rather than spreading the training over multiple months of weekend and evening classes. And I knew I wanted to do the training in India, near the Himalayas, where trees and mountain views are abundant. When I saw that Siddhi Yoga offered a course near Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the exiled Tibetan government, and when I saw that Siddi Yoga had a fantastic reputation, the decision of where to do my training had been made!