Yoga Fest 2015

August 2015 in northern Michigan, what better than a weekend festival of yoga, kirtan (devotional music) and meditation? Arriving in March, I am currently a staff member and yoga teacher in residence at the Song of the Morning Meditation Retreat in Vanderbilt, Michigan. The following photos share some of the beautiful fun of this four day event, Yoga Fest MI. Check out their website www.yogafestmi.com for complete info.

I hope your summer plans include staying cool. Blessings on these Dog Days!

Namaste

 

Spring in Michigan

The United States is a very large landmass. Anyone who has driven across it, be it North to South or East to West, has spent many hours “on the road”. Since the majority of my life experience has been in the southern half of the U.S., arriving for March in Michigan has been a slightly different Spring experience. The following are scenes of the Michigan landscape near the village of Vanderbilt, 65 miles from the junction of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Snow and ice continue to reign, however this is the perfect time for sapping the maple trees.

Wherever you are this time of year, Nature is abundant in beauty of all variations. Happy Happy Spring!

Namaste

One Year Ends, Another is Well Underway

Most of you know me as the un-technical person that I am. Travel has become a way of life and sitting to do a blog post can at times be difficult. Facebook seems to be the popular form of staying in touch, and since I am not a Facebook post-er, I am comfortable to hide in the shadows of my blog. Still I was somewhat surprised to be reminded that it has been 7 months since my last post. Wow, speaking of out of the loop!
That said, during the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 I traveled along the West Coast returning to San Diego for Christmas. I was in San Diego for 7  weeks during which time I closed my storage locker and reorganized my personal effects. The following photos were taken en-route as I visited with friends and family. Many thanks to my hosts along the way: Valentina Marchetti in Vancouver, Canada, Phil and Karla Lazier in Sacramento, Elle and Gabe Morley-Larson in Pasadena, Mary Jane and Michael Smith in Los Angeles, Nancy Caciola, Felicity and Matt Taylor in San Diego, and Bob and Tami Nowell in San Antonio, TX. Always a big thank you to Stacy Magic for her help with paperwork!  Such a blessing to spend time with these wonderful friends.
I will be heading to north central Michigan to work at a meditation retreat for the spring and summer of 2015. Life on the road as a traveling “sadhu” is not the lifestyle choice for many. It somehow seems to work for me. I wish you all a wonderful spring and summer. I am always happy to hear from friends and former students. May Blessings be with you all!

Stehekin, Washington

August of 2014 finds me in the North Cascades National Park in central Washington State. Having never visited the Pacific Northwest,  I was excited to spend the summer on Lake Chelan, 180 miles east of Seattle and 85 miles from Canada. The village of Stehekin is 50 miles by boat from the nearest town. There is no wireless service and telephones are by satellite. Not conducive to blog posting!

Here are a few shots of Stehekin, breathtakingly beautiful! However, full coverage will need to come at a later date when access to the internet is more dependable.

Best Wishes for many beautiful days to round out your summer. Life is to be lived!

Sacramento

Spring! I am on the road in California re-connecting to friends and loved ones along the way. After months of snow and freezing temperatures in the Rockies, the beauty and warmth of spring is pleasurable indeed!

Sacramento is the capital city of California. Affectionately known as the River City, it was founded at the confluence of three rivers, the Sacramento, the American, and the San Joaquin. I recently spent four lovely days with friends Karla and Phil LaZier in “Sac”. The following photos document an afternoon’s outing on the Sacramento River.

In the Gold Rush years of the 1850’s, river boats were a primary means of transportation between Sacramento and the Pacific Coast via San Francisco. Today the Sacramento River Delta is the shipping and rail center for the Sacramento Valley, an important center of national food production. This afternoon river outing only covers 4-5 miles of river front, but you see within this mileage several old and famous bridges; a fun way to spend a glorious spring day in Northern California!

I hope spring 2014 finds you well and happy. My summer adventures will include the “wilds” of Washington State. Stay tuned!

Namaste

Vail, Colorado, A Winter Wonder Land

2014 finds me living in the Rocky Mountain village of Vail, Colorado. As a resident of sunny southern California for many years, the abundance of snow and the lifestyle associated with winter sports is a revelation in human ingenuity and adaptability.  With a winter total thus far of 17 feet, there is a whole new meaning to the lyrics of the song, “Let It Snow” !

Vail and the nearby village of Avon- Beaver Creek were created as winter sports playgrounds. The snow is an amazing soft fluffy powder that is irresistible, the country side indeed a sparkling world of iridescent white.  My appreciation of the necessary techniques of a good photographer who is in the right place at the right time with the proper lighting and equipment continues to grow. These photos represent only a fraction of the surrounding beauty. For a better view, right click on the photo and back arrow to return to the blog.

The system of snow removal that allows people to continue their daily lives is impressive. I must admit that the almost daily ritual of shoveling my parking space has rapidly lost a sense of play!  But there is time for play with snowshoeing and rides on the ski lifts. My wish for you all; wherever and whatever this new year brings it will include health and happiness, prosperity and peace of spirit.

Blessings and Love in 2014!

Tibetan Buddhist Art

Similar to Christianity in which there are numerous denominations, Buddhism also has different sects. Tibetan Buddhism is a style of practice developed by Buddhist practitioners in the geographic section of Asia, north of India, which includes such countries as Nepal and Bhutan, as well as Tibet.

Having studied Eastern philosophy through the avenue of Yoga, I was attracted to Tibetan Buddhism with it’s apparent similarities to other Eastern practices. As in Hinduism, there is great emphasis on the use of art in Tibetan Buddhist worship. In these photos (with my minimal photography skills!) I present but a portion of the artwork in the main shrine room of the Tara Mandala Temple.

Thankas are large paintings usually done on silk fabric which depict the life of the Buddha or other important deities. A torma is a figure sculpted of  barley flour and butter, often quite ornate in their embellishments. Seen as an offering cake (hence flour and butter), the torma is eventually scattered across the land or water as an offering, as an act of non-attachment.

Tibetan Buddhist practice often involves periods of  specifically outlined prayer chanting, interspersed with silent meditation and mantra practice. All aspects of one’s psyche are acknowledged; from the fierceness needed to dispel negativity, to the rapture of bliss, to the peace of open space.  Undeniably there is a huge cultural aspect to Tibetan practice and this is an obstacle for some. However I have found the practices to be of great benefit in “reprogramming”  some of my unconscious egotistic intentions. As I have traveled the US these past years, I have been surprised at the widespread availability of Tibetan Buddhism in places as far away as Montana and Utah. If you are so inclined I would suggest you look into a Center in your area.

Enjoy the Art!

Blessings for a very happy Thankful Season!

Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center

A Retreat Center is often a facility established to provide an opportunity for personal practice and study away from day to day life in civilization. Many times this type of Center is in a rural setting. Often technologies such as computer and phone service are limited. “Retreat” can be defined as a place of privacy or refuge. In the Buddhist tradition students are encouraged to go on retreat to help strengthen their meditation and associate practices.    I have been involved with various spiritual Retreat Centers and fully appreciate the deepening of one’s understanding and growth by stepping out of the “mainstream” of life.

In the early months of this year I made the decision to enter a 2 year study program at the Namgyal Institute of Buddhist Studies in Ithaca, NY.  Upon application to the program and meeting with the Director, it was explained to me that the Namgyal Institute is strictly a study facility and offers minimal practice opportunity. This is a viable approach for study, but was not what I had envisioned for my time in a 2 year program. Subsequently I found the Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs, CO. For more complete information on this beautiful Retreat facility please go to their website at www.taramandala.org.

In these photos you get a glimpse of the beauty of Tara Mandala both in nature and in esthetics. Due to the cold temperatures of the Colorado mountains, the Center is only open from May until October. There are numerous volunteer positions for Buddhist practitioners who would like to help support their practice with service. My primary work was with the gardens, both temple gardens and vegetable gardens. I would encourage those of you who have a semester schedule, with freedom in the summer, to explore the opportunity of  living and working in a full time practice environment.

For a better visual you can click on the photos for a full view. To return to the blog use your “back arrow” key. My next post will focus on some of the art of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition celebrated at Tara Mandala.

Happy Autumn!

Namaste

Summer in Pagosa Springs, Colorado

The “traveling yogi” within me is most happy when discovering and exploring  new territory. I had not heard of Pagosa Springs, CO prior to accepting the work study position at the Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center. What a lovely surprise! In the southwest corner of Colorado, this village of approximately 9,000 is surrounded by the lower Rocky Mountains. The area has active hot springs, and as seen in these photos, the springs are a tourist highlight. Mineral deposits known as “frozen waterfalls” dot the San Juan River, with resorts catering to the bathing visitors. My favorite local spot is the Healing Waters Hotel and Resort where for $10 (can you do anything for $10?) you can soak in 3 different pools with temperatures ranging from 95 up to 110 degrees. The outdoor 104 degree pool is my favorite. Not for those of you with Ayurvedic Pita constituencies!

The summer at 7,500 feet is fabulous. Winter? We will see what Divine Mother has up her sleeve. Next up will be news from the Buddhist Retreat.

Love and Blessings to you all!

On the Road, Once Again

Dear Girls and Boys!

What a summer it has been! I have been away from the blog for several months, largely due to poor internet access. I hope all is well in your lives.

In my last posts I had hoped to settle in Ithaca, NY for a couple of years to participate in a Buddhist Studies program there. As it turned out, I was a bit early. The Namgyal Institute of Buddhist Studies will be moving into a larger facility possibly by 2015. At THAT time they will offer a workstudy program. Oops, a good idea ahead of its time! :-) Therefore I have decided to participate in another Buddhist workstudy program in Colorado. As Colorado is a bit of a drive from New York I am once again on the road.

These photos were taken at Assateague State Park in Berlin, MD. Once in Maryland it is possible to travel a good distance on the islands of the Atlantic Ocean to connect to the Mainland via the 17 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I recommend this excursion to all you East Coasters. Not so wild ponies and beautiful long clean beaches are worthy of the visit. Now it is onto the Tara Mandala Buddhist Retreat Center in Pagosa Springs, CO. I hope to have photos and an update soon.

Blessings and Love for a happy Labor Day holiday. May the “back to school months” bring interesting adventures your way. Namaste

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