Devotion: Guest Blog Post for Hanuman Yoga & Music Festival 2013

hanuman logo 3

What are you devoted to?  Consciously or not, we all devote our precious time and energy to something.  You can view my guest post on this subject here:

The Essence of Devotion

Hanuman Yoga & Music Festival is held in lovely Boulder, CO. This year’s lineup includes some of my personal favs such as Richard Freeman, Tiffany Cruikshank and Kathryn Budig.  Early bird tickets are available until March 1st:

Hanuman Festival 2013

Join me in raising the vibration!!!

So Long, and Thanks for all the Bananas: Recovering Yogi

Created by Vanessa Fiola.  Recovering Yogi
Created by Vanessa Fiola
Recovering Yogi

Well folks, I left the Vipassana meditation retreat early.  In the words of the great Kenny Rogers:

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away…..

I wrote a post for Recovering Yogi about my experience.  Check it out:

Heading to Meditation Bootcamp: Vipassana Meditation Retreat; Pahoa, Hawaii

Unicorn with Calm Mind:  2 Fantastical Creatures

“But WHY are you doing this?” K asks. “I just don’t get it.”

“I’m doing it because when I wake up in the morning, there is a song playing in my head.  In addition to the song, I plan all of my meals right after I open my eyes.  Sometimes, I actually go through the motions of cooking those meals.  Then, I think about what physical activity I will do for the day.  Will I run?  If so, how far will I go?  Will I practice yoga?  If the answer is no, I silently berate myself.  Should I write?  What orders will be available for me to work on?  Will I have any revision requests?  The list goes on and on.  I want to be able to sit in bed and just wake up.  I simply want to hear the birds chirping and watch the sky go from purple to pink to blue.”

Like most people, I have a busy mind.  Like or unlike most, I am a planner.  I mentally masturbate on who, what, when, where and the never-ending WHY.  The word “should” comes up over and over again.  Should have, should do, the list goes on and on.

On Monday, I begin an intense training in Vipassana mediation.  The training will last 10 days.  I will meditate for 10 hours per day.  I am not permitted to read, write, run, practice yoga, drink caffeine, consume alcohol or possess snacks.

According to the Dharmma Foundation, this style of meditation was practiced by Indian sages and rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago.  Vipassana meditation is a silent meditation designed to help free one from the unbridled thoughts, desires and judgments of the mind.  In essence, the goal of this style of meditation, like most others, is to help a people bring awareness into the present moment.  It is an “art of living.”

Sounds like a perfect fit for me.

When I tell people I am participating in this retreat, most ask why.  Many of them ask with intonations of astonishment and a tiny hint of abhorrence in their voice.  Those that know me best say reassuring comments like, “I think this will be really good for you.”

The code of conduct at the retreat is strict.  For example:

  • No reading
  • No journals or writing instruments
  • No speaking
  • No outside contact
  • No physical exercise, including yoga
  • No eating after midday
  • No religious objects
  • No bodily decorations
  • No shorts, tight clothing or sleeveless shirts

The daily schedule is:

  • 4:30-6:30 a.m. Meditation
  • 6:30-8:00 a.m. Breakfast and Morning Break
  • 8:00-9:00 a.m. Group Meditation
  • 9:00-11:00 a.m.  Meditation
  • 11:00-Noon Lunch Break
  • Noon-1:00 p.m. Rest and Interview with Teacher
  • 1:00-5:00  p.m. Meditation
  • 5:00-6:00 p.m. Tea Break
  • 6:00-7:00 Meditation
  • 7:00-8:15 p.m. Lecture
  • 8:15-9:00 p.m. Meditation
  • 9:00-9:30 p.m. Quiet Time in Meditation Hall

Merely typing the schedule gives me dah chicken skin.  Yes, I am nervous.  Yes, being nervous about an event in the future is just the sort of mind chatter I hope to begin to tame by attending this retreat.  At my most optimistic moments, I refer to this retreat as “meditation bootcamp.”  In my fraidy cat moments, I call it “meditation jail.”

On Monday morning, I will meet with my rideshare on the Honokoa coast and head to Pahoa.  The retreat is held on a farm there.  I will camp in my own tent.  I will pack my own meditation cushions, eating utensils, dishes and ablution bag.  I will not speak for 10 days.

I am currently living in a van on the Big Island.  I have one pair of long pants, one long dress and a few shirts that have sleeves.  (It’s nice here, folks. I wear a bikini most of the time).  In an act of aloha, I recently gave away my good towel.  My meditation cushions consist of a yoga mat and sleeping pad.  My remaining towel has a colorful unicorn on it.  I am a little self-conscious of that unicorn, but not enough to drive 100 miles to buy another one.  Driving that far to buy a towel is an extravagance that is very un-Simple Life Good Life.

A unicorn is a fantastical creature.  At this point, a mind without endless chatter is the same.  Wish me luck (but only with full awareness and presence) .

Synchronicity with a Side of Alphabet Soup; Indian Creek; Utah

B Climbing B Climbing 2 B Saggy Tape Glove C climbing Iphone pics 11-26-12 218 C climbing

“Kaci , I’m headed to Indian Creek today.  Call me if you are close.” –Text from C

No way!  I am headed to Indian Creek today!  I haven’t spoken with C for a couple of months, yet here we are going to the same place on the same day.  I call C.  We briefly discuss logistics since there is no cell service in Indian Creek.

Indian Creek is a Mecca for crack climbers.  C & her partner, B, are avid rock climbers who love this area.  It is a lovely experience to watch either of them talk about Indian Creek.  Their stoke is wild, free and highly contagious.

After a short game of note passing on the message board at Bridger Jacks, the four of us connect.  E is with C & B.  I’ve never met E before.  She no longer lives in Estes Park, but her memory does.  I’ve heard several fondly told stories of her general coolness.  E does not disappoint.  After a few minutes, I easily fall into a quiet appreciation for her presence.   As we talk, E’s two dogs lean their warm bodies against my cold legs.

After we exchange hellos and hugs, we throw chairs, beers and a hatchet into the back of B’s truck.  We hop in and ride to their campsite a mile away.  When we arrive, C jumps out of the truck and wanders over to the fire pit.  She shreds dried juniper bark and starts the tiniest fire I have ever seen.  C patiently shreds bark and adds it to the fire.  Fifteen minutes later, we pile on logs and the fire roars to life.

Once coals have formed, E sports vice grips like Edward Scissorhands to make veggie stir-fry over the fire.  We have a homegrown happy hour and then J and I walk back to our camp.

In the morning, E heads to Estes Park and the rest of us go climbing.  B leads the way up a 5.11+.  He shrugs off the tape gloves most wear here and cruises up the route.  C helps me tape on J’s gloves and then zips up the route after B.  I’m next.  I’m not much of a climber.  I get 1/3 of the way up the route.  I come down panting and pumped.  J climbs up next, liebacking his way up the thinnest part of the crack.

We hang out at the crag for a few more hours.  At the end of the day, B and C have to head back to their newfound home in Durango.  We hug and wish each other well.

Grandpa’s Thoughts on the Great Depression

My sister, Denise, recently dusted off an old cassette tape which contains an interview with my grandpa regarding the Great Depression.  My Grandpa passed away in 1997 and my Grandma followed in 2008.  He was an intelligent, friendly man married to a glamorous, strong woman.  I love hearing his special laugh and unique perspective.  Here is the audio file:

Interview with Grandpa