under the great wings of non-judgement

"if we know the divine art of concentration, if we know the divine art of meditation, if we know the divine art of contemplation, easily and consciously we can unite the inner world and the outer world."
-sri chinmoy


my sister and i visited the vedanta center in montecito on my last afternoon/evening in santa barbara.  it is in such a gorgeous location, it's unreal.


driving in the mountains we pull up to this bell, and want to ring it, but aren't sure if we should?


the beautiful temple

 so at this point my sister and i are feeling very chill and blissful, after spending some time by the ocean and having the pleasure of visiting this beautiful place for peace.  we had gone to meditation mount on my first day in sb, so we thought what better way to close my journey than to return to a place of positivity and openness?  kate couldn't remember the name of the place, so we kept calling it the 'pedonkadonk center'.  as we drove up i saw the signs for the 'vedanta center', and i thought yes i remember studying advaita vedanta indian philosophy in college.  i knew at one point i had been drawn to it, so i was excited to see what the ceremony would be like.


it is so quiet up there.  we heard that at 6 pm everyday there is some sort of music and meditation, so we felt confident about sharing in some spirituality with others!


we take a moment to inhale the sweeping breathtaking views.  then we take our shoes off and enter the temple.  i brought my camera in, and was about to snap some photos of the inside of the temple (little did i know it was a good thing i didn't!).  


gorgeous flowers everywhere, yet there are signs all about that say 'please walk only on the paved paths'.  hmmmm...  if this is a place of respect and peace, wouldn't it be an opportune area to trust that people won't trample flowers?


spring!  

as we enter the temple we hear indian music and chants i don't understand.  there are chairs set up and about 5 or 6 people are sitting with their eyes closed.  i look up front and see an altar with candles and photos of krishna, jesus, buddha, etc.  it feels very formal in there and i wonder why people are meditating on chairs when it's so comfortable and grounding to meditate on the floor.  i realize i shouldn't judge them though, we each have our own ways of meditating. 


my sister and i enjoy meditating in nature!

kate and i make our way to the front on the room and sit on the floor, thinking this is an open place and we should feel comfortable.  we sit upright for a bit, close our eyes, and begin to go within.  the indian music is kind of pretty- the woman singing is slightly off key but it works.  i can't help but wish it was in english so i could know and absorb the information.  oh well i think, we are in an indian temple.  


this is the same afternoon that i got a massage, so i feel like continuing with the muscle healing.  i stretch my legs in front of me and just allow my head to hang in a very easy forward bend.  i think nothing of it, and it's not like i'm going all out and doing sun salutations.  the music is almost distracting, but then i remember that distractions are the best way to meditate- we can't always have our silence and need to know how to be calm in chaos.  i take full deep breaths and accept the calm.  i feel light and love with my sweet little sister nearby, sensing her breath and presence next to me, both going inward.  so awesome.


i am abruptly drawn out of my peace by a gentle grab of my shoulder.  i open my eyes feeling afraid and see a woman wearing a shawl on her head.  she says, "you are welcome to meditate here, but we really don't allow so much yoga asana.  please continue to meditate sitting."  and she hands me a little card with rules on it.

suddenly i feel embarrassed and put out, like a child being reprimanded in church.  i watch as my feelings of animosity begin brewing, my rebelliousness to organized religion resurfaces and my calm easiness has gone out the window. 

i close my eyes and try to meditate again but can't help but feel excluded and unwanted.  i sense kate get up and leave so i do the same.  while leaving i look at the card of rules.  they say: 
1. no laying down
2. wear appropriate clothing
3. no eating or drinking
4.  no physical exercises
5.  no pictures or videos- if you'd like to do this please speak with someone at the center

rules.  ugh.  i'm at church again.  i'm not trusted to find my own path to peace, i have to follow someone else's rules.  



my sister and  i walk around the grounds (on the paved areas of course) for a short while and whisper our thoughts on what just happened.  for a moment we reflect that maybe we were wrong and disrespectful, but then we think- how does how we meditate affect others if we aren't hurting or disturbing others?  why the uniformity?

we laugh it off as much as we can, and think of things we wish we'd said to the woman.  what if one of us had a bodily problem where we couldn't sit up for long periods of time?  it's a bit rude to assume everyone can sit and meditate.  we wish we had screamed out of shock when she came near us and said "oh my gosh you startled me!  i'm meditating here!"  i mean who interrupts someone when they're meditating to tell them they're doing it wrong?!  she could have at least waited until we walked out the temple and let us know after.  it is quite the buzz kill to be reprimanded when in an open and somewhat vulnerable space of meditation.

kate and i decided to take this experience as a lesson, not a mistake.  we shook off the judgement, yet still felt a little sad that we didn't feel welcome and probably won't go back to the pedonkadonk society.  i took a look at the pamphlet i picked up on my way out, about the ceremony we had witnessed called arati.  i understand there are a million ways to peace, and for some this is their way.  it is a little too rigid, superstitious, and exclusive for my taste, with the dipping of the candle three times and the singing of the songs to ramakrishna, but to each her own.



on the car ride home, my sister and i discuss what a striking difference the vedanta society is from meditation mount.  when we walked around mediation mount we saw many friendly welcoming faces.  one guy was walking around playing his guitar, two women were painting, some people were gardening, and we were welcomed by a sweet woman named katherine that asked to take photos of us doing yoga for their website.  you can walk wherever you like on the grounds, respect for the sacred place is understood.  hot tea is available to everyone all day.  the only rule on mediation mount is not to disturb others.  i like that rule, it's very universal and inclusive, something we all should respect- each other's peace.

i find it interesting that once religious dogma is involved, particularly with the idea of a personal god, that judgement begins to peak it's ugly little head.  spirituality is innate and within every being in the universe and we will each find our own way.  to be judged and reprimanded for your way, if it doesn't harm anyone, is pretty much the demise of faith and the antithesis of what religions proclaim.  

i truly hope i live to see a day when rather than focus on what divides us, we nurture and cultivate what we all share.  

we are one after all- imagine!


visit mediation mount's site here: www.meditation.com

  

meditate on the ocean

"i am you, you are me.  you are the waves; i am the ocean.  know this and be free, you are divine."
 - sri sathya sai baba

happy monday my loves!  it is officially spring in new england, but you would never know it!  the sun is shining, but it's still brrrrrr cold!!

i am happy to be home, back to my routine, but i really really miss california.  the coast is so soothing on the soul, and there certainly is a divine power within every crash of the waves.  


the sun finally returned on my last full day in santa barbara.  my sister kate and i welcomed it with open minds and hearts!



my lil gil ;)


heaven


me by the sea!


beach combers feeling free




discovering 


look at these tiny shells.  nature never ever fails to inspire and awe!


i remember how small i am each time i travel, each time i view the ocean.


ocean life can look so prehistoric!  we all come from the same place- the water :)


salt water + fresh air + sunshine = pure bliss


i could stay here forever...


basking in the love of my sweet angelic sister


true love <3


we must leave the sea ...

i love and miss the pacific ocean, but i must remember it is all the same ocean.  all the water flows into the sea eventually.  california coast wait for me!  i'll be back! 

"the cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears, or the sea."
 - isak denesin (saw on colleen's fridge!)

this evening as i go for my run and practice yoga i will be meditating on the oneness of us all.  we have so much more in common than we have different and love follows us each wherever we may go.  locations change, the tides rise and fall, but our spirit and soul stays the same- eternal and limitless  like waves of salt water.



my life's little luxuries

"in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.  for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning is and refreshed." - kahlil gibran

happy friday my sweet sweet friends!  hope this day finds your heart open and renewed!

sorry i have been a bit mia on my posts the past few days.  i found myself with so much to do since i've gotten home wednesday morning!  i am trying my best to prioritize, and as much as i flippin' love writing in my blog, i just haven't been able to buckle down because other events in my life have taken center stage.  but here i am now, back writing and sharing with all you, the people i love.  thank you for reading about my thoughts and adventures <3.

i still have so so much more to express about my vacation in california last week and weekend!  whenever i travel i feel so rejuvenated and fresh, like a new piece of paper waiting for a story to be written on it!

so my next few blog posts will be about my travels, about my thoughts while on the west coast and the new perspectives i find when i come back east.  it is a funny thing, everytime i travel to california i feel a stronger and stronger pull to stay.  like a magnet, this invisible strength is steadily demonstrating to me that there's a force there that i can't ignore.  i  feel like i find a lot of myself while with my sister and my best friends, adding pieces to this complex puzzle that is my being.  connections and opportunities present themselves to me each time i visit the left coast, but they also inspire me to find more of these missing pieces in my life here at home.  i'm of course the same person wherever i go, but i'm beginning to see i could use a change of perspective, even temporarily.  we shall see what happens!

so this past week i've been feeling what i usually feel, extremely lucky for the hand i've been dealt in this life.

i've had the pleasure of my sister cooking for me one night in santa barbara:


kate has the heaviest pot to cook in!


choppin'!


silly cute girl. 
 she cooked wild rice and lots of veggies- just threw it together and it came out awesome!


my lil sis takes care of the sweetest lady a few days a week- janice.  she's got a few disabilities, but her optimism and great sense of humor more than balance it out!  she's a love, and is always saying "you should move here!.", and " i called the airline and changed your flight, you're staying another week!"


she took us out for a delicious lunch at spiritland bistro in santa barbara.  i got the plate called 'california dreaming'.. such yumminess- wild salmon, rice, and veggies with kale and a ginger dip!  kate and i also shared a nice big pot of equilibrium tea- a balancing blend of herbs that poured out violet colored!  amazing!


my beautiful sister


sweet, loving, and generous jan :)


lil ol' me eating and enjoying life.


wow what a blessed woman i am- after lunch i got an incredibly sensuous and nurturing massage from linnea, kate's illustrious roommate and our good friend <3 !  she has such a powerful touch, and leaves me feeling like a little baby just being born!  i traded her some purusha people clothing for the rubdown.  not too bad eh?!


if you live in the santa barbara area i would highly recommend linnea villagas massage therapy!  book your healing session at www.linneavillegas.com


my funny women <3  love them so much!  dancing around the holy massage table!

AND, to top off all these awesome luxuries, i got another massage when i returned home to collinsville yesterday, for a second trade of purusha yoga wear!  WOW!!! this was just what i needed after a long flight and to remain open to new beginnings here at home.


if you live in the farmington valley area go get a massage with corey at massage for you!  she has the most beautiful peaceful space, and massages with awesome aromatherapy and hot stones!  corey adds her own
creative touches to her sessions, including a tibetan bowl she plays on your heart that vibrates and heals your entire body!  check her out at http://www.massagefouryou.com !  

i can definitely say i feel cleansed and new after all this TLC i've been receiving this past week.

i hope all of you are taking time out of your busy lives to receive and give love and tenderness!  have a peaceful weekend!  
dinner in montecito on the supermoon

happy first day of spring my babies!!

  it doesn't quite feel like spring today in santa barbara, it's chilly and raining heavily.  the plants though look like they are gladly drinking it up!  i am safe and warm indoors, about to get some shots of the beautiful colleen modeling some new purusha wear!

last night me and a bunch of lovely women got together and made delicious homemade indian cuisine at a friend's gorgeous home in the hills of montecito!  col made tagine, kate made daal, i made saag, and linnea and brittany made rice and helped with all the little details.  it was a cloudy and drizzly dark night, so unfortunately we couldn't see the huge super full moon, but i think it's safe to say we felt its affects!



feeling very merry cooking the food around the island counter- chopping veggies and sipping wine


sister, sister :)


home on the range


colleen frying up the eggplant with cinnamon!  mmmm...


me stirring the saag 


nayner getting wild testing the food!


this meal required teamwork!


we gathered around this fancy dining table


i bonded with teddy ;)


linnea getting pumped to eat!


full moon silliness



heheh


love this shot!  so funny !


getting goofy and giddy


my plate, feeling such gratitude at this moment!


first delicious bite!


chilling post meal 


col and little teddy


feelin' good


bonnie and nay chatting


relaxing and knitting


laughs


knitting near bedtime

'twas a perfect evening, i couldn't have asked for more!

  i love my ladies and am so happy to have such wonderful positive feminine energy surrounding me every time i make my way to my second home on the west coast!

so much love!

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