Well! This past week has been an experience. As I may have mentioned, my SO and I are practitioners of a certain kind of meditation. It is followed by millions and while it is a Hindu based tradition, it is open to and followed by people of all faiths. Also, while the main Guru is a Hindu Paramahamsa-with his guru’s guru having been Yoganandya, the main premise is to meditate-to become closer to God as one views it-this can mean Jesus, it can be Moses, Mohammad, Nanak-Whomever. There is a certain yoga ritual that this is based on-Yoga in this case meaning Union. Union with God. Now, my SO meditates twice daily- getting up at 4:30 in the morning often and practicing for 3 hours. My morning consists of waking up around 7, taking out my dog, making a cappucino and getting back in the bed. I listen to Mantras on Pandora and write in my journal. I reserve my second cappuccino for reading the news. So, while I adhere to this form of devotion, I don’t practice it daily. Preferring to chant mantras throughout the day, thinking of God throughout the day, etc. I do however attend programs throughout the year and do the cooking for a program that we attend in the Seattle area every year.
Recently, this group bought 150 acres in Texas, about an hour and a half from where we live. It is an Ashram and intended to be one ran by women and for women to possibly live there in the future. There is the main house, where the care taking nun lives, a dormitory style building that can sleep 40 women and a separate house for men to stay in. Eventually, a Temple and other small residence buildings will be built there. We went for the opening ceremony last September and my SO spent a week there in November helping them prepare for a week long program that was coming up. A few months ago a notice was put out asking for some volunteers to spend a week there taking care of things while the 2 women that live there attend a program in Florida. My SO asked if I was interested. I asked could we bring the dog. They checked and said yes, but only if he did not come in the house-which is basically the Meditation Hall- and that he could sleep in the barn. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. For some reason though, I agreed. However, as time went on and the date was getting closer, I started having second thoughts. Missing Bentley (the dog) in London, I wasn’t happy about leaving him again for a week so soon after we returned. But, it was too late to back out. And, surprise! no one else had volunteered.
So, we packed up the SUV- and I mean packed. Took our own linens, lots of food, definitely the Cappucino machine, the portable speaker-the car was full. I had tried to just tell myself that this was something that was supposed to be. And, as we were half way between Austin and Houston, I thought we’d go to a little small town nearby one day and then on Saturday go to Houston where we could find a sports bar to watch the FA Cup final. Trust me there is no place in the surrounding area that was going to show European Football. We arrived to the quite and serene setting. I mean that. The energy there is amazing. It’s an old farm house with a big front porch looking out at a beautiful fenced yard (perfect for a dog!) with lots of flowers, lush grass, several beds with assorted happily producing vegetable plants, giant Pecan trees, some Peach and Fig trees.. Really pretty. “Okay”‘, I told myself. “Just go with this Lynne. Take in the energy and just be. At the least you’re contributing to someone being able to partake in their own Spiritual practice”. I was thinking of the nun that we were filling in for.
I thought I would take long walks in the morning before it got too hot and just spend most of my day outside on the porch. Oh, did I mention that because this was more or less a Temple and Meditation Hall, aside from 4 chairs inside-wooden ones, there isn’t any other furniture. No sofa, no dining room table. Nada. There is a huge stack of meditation cushions. Oh! And no TV. Of course looking at the Ashram schedule that was posted in several places, there’s no time for watching TV or laying around on a sofa. They start at 4:45 a.m. and don’t stop til 9:30 at night. When I’m sure they fall into a totally exhausted, but blessed, sleep. Never noticing that the mattress is only 2 inches thick. And while we were not expected to adhere to the schedule -who would know if we didn’t? Well, except God of course! We did have a couple of things that we had to do on a daily basis. One was to water the plants and vegetable gardens daily. This took up an hour or more. The other was attending to the 2 pet cows-Bahamas of course! Rishi and Karuna are there names. They’re very sweet, just about a year old and still had blessing marks on their foreheads from the previous visit from the cheif Guru. Everyday around 4:30 p.m. they would come up to the field right out of the back door to be hand fed bananas-who knew?- and brushed. Now I’ll admit that even though I’m a pure bred Texan, I’ve never had this much experience with cows. And I loved it. Not as much as having my Bentley with me, but it was fine and a nice experience.
The first full day went as planned. We both stuck to our normal routine. My SO got up at 4:30 and meditated. I got up at my usual time and went outside and had my coffee-We took a 4 mile walk. Made breakfast and I pretty much spent all day outside. In the night I noticed that I had a weird drainage in the back of my throught and chalked it up to allergies. The next day, I mentioned that being a small, country area there was bound to be some good pie around. Started checking out the internet-thank God they had that! My So made a comment about me not being able to just be there. That’s when I realized that we had different visions of how this week was going to be. Wondering to myself if he had been planning on having a kind of intense, spiritual experience. By now he was meditating 3 times a day. I just kind of look at everything as an ongoing spiritual experience. So, I backed off about leaving. But, I will admit, I was kind of irritated. Then that wierd drainage turned into what I thought was a full blown cold. Which in fact was just “cold like” symptoms for what became an upper respiratory infection. Jeez! So much mucus and blowing my nose! And the coughing! I had my SO go get me some nighttime medication because I knew if I didn’t have that, I’d be coughing all night long. As it was, because my cough was so bad, and I felt pretty crummy, we didn’t go on our planned excursions. No little Texas town, no FA Cup on tv. I was able to follow it on my phone with live commentary-and as Chelsea lost, I guess it was fine we didn’t go.
Now, I have to say that a part of me was well aware that me getting this “crud” when I did was all connected to the whole experience. And, as I had plenty of time on my hands, I did some research on the metaphysical meaning of respiratory infections and cough. “Resentment. Wanting to be heard. Barking at the world.” Yep. That fit. And, as there are pictures of different Gurus all over the place, I’d just look at them and kind of laugh and say, “okay! You got me. I’m here and not leaving.” My SO gets a little taken aback with my relationship with the Gurus, God. For example, I always call on particular Guru when I’m looking for a parking place. My SO thinks that’s a little disrespectful. Says he’s doing other things. My take is that he can do a zillion different things at once. And, to be honest, most of the time, it works. Just saying…
By Sunday morning, I’d had it. My cough and mucus production seemed to lighten up and I decided that I’d take a shower, wash my hair and clean up. While I was wrapping my wet hair in a towel, my back went out! REALLY???? I couldn’t fucking believe it! Went in told my SO. Tired to stretch it out. Lower back. In a clinch! I said to myself, “Fuck it!” And went ahead, did my hair, put some makeup on, got dressed and went into the room my SO was-still in his lounge pants-and said, “I’m gotta get out of here. If you want to come, be in the car in 5 minutes!” And he was. We went to the little town we’d planned on checking out-Ok, it was an outing, but I’ll never go back there! Then went back to the town we were staying in which isn’t much better and went to the only place open that wasn’t fast food. Got a sandwich. This is where Blue Bell ice cream is made and it’s everywhere. So, I had a double chocolate soda with my lunch. All the while, moving gingerly. By that time we’d been gone a whole 2 hours! But, I was worn out. So went back took a nap. I was also craving things. One of them being a steak! I haven’t eaten meat in like 6 years. I’m not sure if it was the rebellious part of me-being in a totally almost Vegan environment-or if it was all the cattle in the area-not Rishi and Karuna-or if I needed iron. The other thing I was really craving was scrambled eggs! God did I want scrambled eggs!
On Monday-Memorial Day- my back was still hurting and I had been uncomfortable sleeping-but again, I needed to get out. So I got dressed, told my SO to meet me at the car and we went into town for lunch. Same place. This time I had a huge cone of Butter Pecan Ice Cream with my lunch. As lunch had only taken about an hour-and that’s with walking around the town-I asked if he wanted to go to Walmart! That’s how desperate I was! Walmart on Memorial Day! We found a little department store and spent an hour in there. I looked at EVERTHING! I sprayed so much perfume on myself, we had to roll the windows down when we got back in the car.
That night, my back went into a spasm and wouldn’t release. I had to get up and it took me 15 minutes to maneuver out of the bed. Each time I took a step, my back would spasm and I’d yell out in pain. Then I’d start laughing. At one point, I couldn’t stop laughing. My SO thought I’d totally lost my mind and asked if I’d be able to ride in the car to go home. Let me tell you, I was going home! After sitting in a really straight backed chair for about an hour-watching my SO take care of ALL the chores, I was able to get on with it.
At one point though, as I was trying to process everything- why this all happened, why it happened at this time, in this place- I realized a couple of things. In so many ways, it’s our minds that imprison us. Our beliefs. Our self imposed limitations. Which can manifest into physical limitations and set backs. I didn’t want to go and stay at the Ashram for a week. If there’s a program, okay. But for this, no. While it may not adhere to the basic theology of this group-which is that meditation is the way to go-I have, as I’ve said, an almost constant awareness of God and a belief that everything comes from God-even a respiratory infection and a whacked out back. I asked my SO if he’d had any kind of huge spiritual experience the past week and he said not really. And again, I’m glad that by staying there I was able to contribute to someone else’s Spiritual Path or growth. But, I allowed myself to be trapped into something without thinking it through and all of the resentment, discomfort, boredom just manifested into a fog of pain. Now of course if I’d still been drinking, I could never have agreed to the whole thing. Because it wouldn’t have been at all appropriate to knock back a bottle-or probably more-of vino every night. Or I would have spent a lot of time in that un-airconditioned barn “sneaking”and then trying not to act any different when I went back inside. Yeah, right! Not to mention where would I hide all the empties? It just would not have even been an option for me to commit to that. I wouldn’t have been able to commit to it because I would have not only been a prisnor of my mind, but of alcohol. Which of course is related to being a prisnor of ones’ mind (in my humble opinion). And so, the cycle would go on and on and on. Feeling guilty if I didn’t go so I could stay at home and drink-or feeling guilty because I was getting drunk every night in a sacred space. Thank God that wasn’t an issue! In spite of all the gunk and the pain, all of that is so much better than all of the shit that comes from addiction.
I’m home now! Got my doggie woggie with me! Had a big plate of scrambled eggs for dinner last night. Have an appointment with my Chiropractor this afternoon. Life is good and I’m blessed.
And oh, by the way in case you haven’t figured it out-I may be a Texan, but I am definitely not a country girl!