Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Cheryl and I sent out Christmas cards this year, but due to the sheer, overwhelming number of wonderful people we know, we inevitably missed some of you. But never fear! Now you can print out your own card at home! It's even customizable — just check the boxes that best suit your desired holiday experience and voilá! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

L.A. Pilgrimage

Mom and I spent three days of the long Thanksgiving weekend on a trip to Los Angeles, to see all the SRF-related sights, and to visit the new Ananda ashram house for one of Swami Kriyananda's talks. I had never seen Lake Shrine, Mt Washington, etc., and Mom hadn't been there since the 80's, so it was a fun new adventure for both of us. I put a few photos up here.

I loved finally getting to see all the places I'd read about in the AY, many of which seem as though they've simply dropped in today from 6o years ago. Hollywood Temple, for instance, is completely surrounded by giant Kaiser buildings, which makes the already small church look even more miniature. But SRF has a knack for creating beautiful places,  thanks in equal part, I expect, to our guru's vibrations and their gorgeous landscaping. You can still meditate on the temple grounds, blissfully unaware of the surrounding skyscrapers.

We also went to Forest Lawn, where Yogananda's body is in the mausoleum. Not much to see there, of course, but kind of incredible to think that the only thing actually separating us from him is a few inches of marble. Similarly, I enjoyed getting to meditate in the Temple of Leaves, and do the energization exercises on the Mt Washington tennis court, knowing that he had done those same things on those same spots. We even got to stand in the very room where a young Donald Walters was accepted by Yogananda as a disciple. The spiritual aura of these places is palpable.

The Ananda visit wrapped up our trip, and it was fun to show up as a surprise to our friends there. The quartet of singers we've got down there is sounding amazing. (Ananda music is always good, but that morning it was write-home-about-it good.) Swamiji gave a great talk, and even stayed around for a blessing line for a while afterward. I took the opportunity, appropriately for the Thanksgiving weekend, to quickly just thank him for everything he's done and created that has had such a profound effect on my life.

On a related-but-unrelated note, I've just heard that Daya Mata, president of SRF, passed away last night. Aum and blessings to her soul....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What I've Been Up To

The short answer, obviously, is "not blogging." Not that there hasn't been anything to share, I just haven't been as much in the mood to spend time writing about it all these days.

So here's the Cliff's Notes version of it. In the last 5 months, I have....
  • written an article for Ananda's Clarity Magazine.
  • been to Yosemite with Cheryl for our anniversary. (Hmm, photo-posting is another thing I haven't kept up with. Oh, alright, here's one.)
  • sung in a concert.
  • meditated a lot, and done some yoga on and off.
  • attended Spiritual Renewal Week at Ananda Village.
  • done a lot of volunteer work for Ananda (creating and managing a blog and a Facebook page, working on a database migration project, helping post class recordings on the internet, and miscellaneous other things).
  • gotten a job. 
I'll go ahead say a bit more about that last item, since it's the biggest single change in my overall situation. But no, I haven't gone back to a typical 9-to-5. I enjoy the lifestyle I've created over the last couple years since Google, and so I prefer to keep a flexible schedule, with time for serving in ways that are important to me, whether or not they pay. But to keep some of the financial energy flowing, I'm now working for Revolution Prep as a teacher and private tutor. I'm doing SAT prep right now, and maybe more stuff later on. I enjoy getting a chance to do more teaching, so as part-time jobs go, this is a good one.

[P.S. I guess, since I have a new employer, it's time to add my disclaimer back in: I speak only for myself.]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Me and the Impending Doom

This weekend, I got to be part of a small reader's theater production at the Ananda Easter brunch and festivities. We did an adaptation (by Dambara) of P.G. Wodehouse's story "Jeeves and the Impending Doom," which was a great deal of fun. I played the part of Bertie Wooster, and was joined by Nirmoha (Jeeves), Mom (Aunt Agatha), Tim (Bingo Little), Nishkama (Mr. Filmer), and Cheryl (swan). And, as luck would have it, we were video taped! So if you like this kind of stuff, have a look, and enjoy!

Wodehouse Play 4/4/2010 from Ananda Palo Alto on Vimeo.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Meditation Teacher Training

I recently spent 9 days up at The Expanding Light retreat in Ananda Village for Meditation Teacher Training. The course is intense, but an overall fantastic experience. Savitri and Diksha are excellent teachers, and made the whole thing very enjoyable.

Each day starts with getting up around 6:00, and going to the first 2-hour sadhana session of the day - energization exercises, yoga postures, and meditation. (Or, in my case, going over to Hansa temple for the community group meditation.) Then there's an hour for breakfast, and a couple hours for class, and that rounds off the morning. There's a short noon meditation, and then lunch break. In the afternoon we have two more hours of classes, and the second sadhana of the day before dinner. After dinner we'd have another class most nights, leaving us maybe an hour or so before bed to keep up with the course reading. A couple evenings were "free" time, which mostly meant doing reading, working on the written assignment, and preparing for presentations and student teaching. So it was a pretty full schedule.

What I found, though, was that once I got into the flow of it, I was able to stay in "always-on" mode pretty much all the time. I can't remember the last time I'd been so completely focused for such a long time, and it was an amazing experience. There was a really good illustration of that on the penultimate evening. I had a couple free hours to work on my final presentation, to be given first thing the next day, so I was doing that. Then my neighbor came by to talk to me about her presentation, and to run various ideas by me. I was able to just completely switch modes and focus on her, and then go directly back to working on my own project afterward. No transition time, no frustration, no wasted energy, no nothing. Just being right in the moment with whatever I was doing at the time. It was great to get to practice that so clearly.

Another amusing little bit for me was my morning walks over to Hansa. Getting there by 6:30 meant it was still dark, and I didn't have a flashlight. That made it tricky at first to find and follow the trail through the little section of woods I had to traverse. But though the trail was indistinguishable visually from the rest of the forest floor, I found that I could hear it as I went along. My feet crunched on more fallen leaves when I strayed off the trail than when I was on it. Of course, once I'd done it the first time, it wasn't as tricky, but I was amused at following a trail by ear, nonetheless.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lake Shasta

Cheryl and I went up to Lake Shasta over the Valentine's / Presidents' / Chinese New Year three-day weekend (it seems we're being very efficient with our holidays this year).  We rented a lovely little cabin at Tsasdi Resort, right by the lake. The weather was pleasantly gray and only a bit drizzly, making it nice to stay inside and be cozy, and also pleasant to hike around by the lake occasionally. The water level in the lake is still extremely low, because all the rain this year still hasn't been enough to recover from several drought years. That's a shame, but it does mean that there's a huge border or red dirt between the water and the treeline, which makes a very picturesque color combination in places.

We also took a tour through the Shasta Caverns, which are quite impressive. I thought it was silly, though, when at one point the guide turned off all the lights to show us "how dark it gets inside a cave." That could have been quite dramatic if it weren't for everybody's cell phones and cameras and such providing backup lighting! Oh well.

Other fun parts of the trip included a stump alien, wild turtle riding, and stowaway Bedouins.

Our View Me and the Manzanitas Cheryl by Lake Shasta Us Outside the Caverns

(See more photos here.)