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The ashram sits on the edge of Kootenay Lake (image via Yasodhara Ashram Facebook page)

Sustainability is a big deal at Yasodhara Ashram. The community has made great efforts to be sustainable: recycling programs, building upgrades, solar power and geothermal heating, as well as making a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2013. As the ashram leadership ages and the swamis are approaching retirement age, the community is also looking at how it will sustain itself. Where do swamis go to retire? What does a retired swami do?

I had a visit with the ashram’s spiritual director, Swami Radhananda, in her lovely dining room overlooking the lake. We talked about the questions that the ashram is asking and the changes in the air.

What is happening at the ashram right now? It’s in a place of transition, what’s happening?

Well, all of a sudden we realized we’re getting old. We wanted the ashram to consciously go through the transition of us knowing that we can’t keep doing the same thing forever. For me, the turning point really was the release of my book [Carried By A Promise, timeless books, 2011].

You’re realizing that the leadership here is aging, so the question is “What next? Who will lead next?”

We want to do the best we can to have things moving, and at the same time, the core stable and the foundation really solid. I am 70 years old, I know there’s only a certain amount of time. How am I going to use that time? But we’re all in our 60s and 70s now, so something has to form. It may be different but the same. Read the rest of this entry »

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I am the centre of my universe!

“I no longer see community as a safe place, or as a specific structure. I think of it as an attitude and a process. It is understanding and practicing interdependence, recognizing that we need one another for everything that makes life worthwhile and even for survival itself.” – Arthur Gladstone

I an attempt to understand what community looks like and means to me, I drew this little diagram*. In the middle: me! And radiating out are my various intersecting and overlapping communities, and the people who make them.

My yoga community is bunched up in the bottom part ~ it’s made up of rad’a (the space where I teach, in the former ascent headquarters), the Montréal Anusara crew, Yasodhara Ashram (where I lived and studied for 2 years) and “Mtl yogis” (which refers to other yogi friends in town who don’t fit in the previous categories). In reality, these spheres intersect and overlap, rather than function independently.  “Former ascent staff,” my beloved friends and co-workers at the magazine, are tangental to my yoga scene ~ and still, happily, part of my life. “MEM yoga” is another teaching space, at the Mile End Mission in my neighbourhood.

I’ve drawn a line from “MEM yoga” to a big cluster in the top corner, which represents my physical neighbourhood, Mile End. Most of my social and community action happens in my lively ‘hood, and it plays a big role in my life. Definitely, my sense of belonging and connection comes from my location. It’s the little things, like bumping into people at the cafe or the fruiterie, which create feelings of community on a daily basis.

Up in the top left is my blog, and the joyous little online community that has sprung up around it’s all yoga, baby. The participators and active commentors such as Linda-sama, Bob WEcoYogini and Montréal yogi/blogger Adriana (who I’ve never even met in RL, even though she lives just a few blocks from me) are the heart of this community. And spiraling out from there are the “global internet yogis,” who stop by on their interweb meanderings (I know you’re out there, thanks to Google Analytics!).

Other aspects of my community world are my family and hometown friends in BC, my boyfriend, my knitter friends, my pan-Canadian writing friends ~ and my cats! Now that I am a Person-Who-Works-From-Home, my cats Qyogi and Kaiser are my co-workers (and I’m glad they’re not my employees, because they’re rather lazy and I’d have to fire them). They’ve taught me so much about interdependence (and love, and service, and fun), and they make my life, my single apartment-dwelling urban life, more worthwhile and enjoyable.

* Adapted from Carolyn Shaffer’s book, Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World.

The cover of 'The Hipless Boy'

The cover of 'The Hipless Boy'

Okay people, we are all in need of some good vibes right now. This evening, I got away from my computer and my cats, got out of my house and interacted with cute, interesting smart people at Sherwin Tjia‘s launch event for ‘The Hipless Boy.’

I had the pleasure of working with Sherwin at ascent and I love his work, so I was happy to celebrate the release of his new book, a collection of graphic shorts which follow a guy who “tries to live his life like an open heart, and a curious cat, meeting and mingling with a collection of Montreal oddballs.”

Sherwin gave an awesome slide show, entertaining the crowd. I won’t go into it all here, but you can get a sample for yourself on the Conundrum Press website.

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