31/12/2014 :: Glimpsing the last of this sunset through the palm trees, I slipped off my bike and found a spot to have a seat ; pausing just long enough to catch my breath, take this snapshot, and indulge in the peace and quiet of the moment.
Earlier this morning during sunrise yoga, we worked to bend and twist through anything that needed to be released, both physically and emotionally, before the start of the new year. Each person was encouraged to identify her own internal toxins and empowered via this practice (and lots of laughing) to let it all go. Easier said than done, of course, but still quite an effective practice worth repeating often. Simply directing attention to the presence of this physical/emotional/psychological waste helped to shift the paradigm of what it might mean to really work through this often-uncomfortable process of making peace with the past in order to clear more open space for the present and/or future.
With only a few minutes between the end of yoga and the start of my “commute” to work, I was soon flying over the red-rocky backroads of Auroville on my bike en route to Aikiyam School in New Creation. Getting to the gate of the school exactly on time at 8h45 was nothing less than a sweat-soaked miracle; but there to welcome me was Shankar the school’s Head Master. Fortunately since he already gave me a walking tour of the campus yesterday afternoon, we were able to get straight to work on the task at hand which included taking inventory of the school’s communication collateral and evaluating their presence online.
When the bell rang at 12h45, I was invited to join the staff and students for lunch where I got to meet other volunteers from Europe that had been working at Aikiyam for several months. Although it was certainly an inspiring discussion, the most energetic and entertaining exchange came from the group of 4th grade boys who crammed around the small table under the banyan trees with us to “be cool” as they said; boasting loudly to their friends that they were “especially invited” to join us for lunch that afternoon. Like any other group of fourth grade boys anywhere else in the world, the tall tales these boys were spinning were truly hilarious and seemingly endless until the bell finally rang to get us all up and moving again; beaming over our shoulders at each other as we spread back out over the small campus and got back to work.
After work, I went to meet Kalsang at the Tibetan Pavilion for some meditative “karma yoga” volunteering which involved setting out hundreds of small bowls along every conceivable edge of the complex, including every ledge and window sill in sight. After all the bowls were set, we went around and coiled tiny cotton wicks into each bowl and then filled them all with oil in preparation for the evening’s New Year’s Eve festivities. During this experience, I learned from another volunteer about her family’s meditative traditions regarding the use of similar oil candles and am still deeply inspired by how this ritual can be used in such a quotidian, reflexive way. This time of transition, from the end of one year to the beginning of another, invites us all to slow down and make space for the possibilities present in the here, and now; in both the inhale and the exhale.