The Krishna Village community consists of approximately 70 people living in harmony with nature and one another - retreat guests, karma yogis, volunteers, yoga teacher trainees (YTTs) and other course participants. In addition, there are about 70 Krishna devotees who live on the property within the two ashrams or in private houses with their families. And lastly, there are about 100 students at the Hare Krishna school (Gurukula, a primary and high school that operate on the Australian Curriculum but adds in Krishna related content). Seeing them, I wish I had a fundamental understanding of my spiritual nature as profound as those kids do.
After having spent four months on the farm, last week it was time for me to have a little break before embarking on my yoga teacher training. So I went off to Sydney to catch up with some close friends. What a difference it can make in one's life to reconnect with good friends, especially after traveling for such a long time - friends really are the sunshine of life!
I was definitely worried about leaving the farm and returning to city life. Sydney's population has recently reached 5 million people, compared to our small community, it is a different world ...
Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out
Walking around Sydney, I realised how much city life triggers materialism. This can take a toll on your well-being, relationships and quality of life. There are shops everywhere. So many buildings, cars, people. So many eyes are watching, and it’s so easy to just get caught up in things. I am not an exception - just a girl, standing in front of a shop, asking myself if I really need all these fancy things. And sure enough, I parted with a good deal of my savings at the Lulu Lemon store in preparation for my YTT. So now I’m a Lulu follower, too …
So what's the antidote to all this? The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing: Mindfulness! The ability to avoid the tendency to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by what's going on around us. The focused awareness on the present moment, that can be cultivated through breathing (pranayama), meditation and yoga. There is no place I'd rather be right now then at Krishna Village, as I am on a mission to find my inner peace. The YTT course has so much more to offer than just a yoga teacher certification - it is first and foremost a journey of becoming a yogi. So much more than just a few asanas...
How to make your mind your best friend
When I asked our philosophy teacher Michael the other day, “How can I control my mind?”, he answered my question with just one word: “Meditation.”
Meditation is all about controlling our mind, rather than letting it control us. Although we can't impose absolute quiet on our mind, through meditation we give attention to the stillness that already exists in the space between our thoughts. Sometimes referred to as "the gap", this space between thoughts is pure consciousness, pure silence, and pure peace. When we meditate, we use an object to focus our attention, such as our breath, an image, or a mantra, which allows our mind to relax into this silent stream of awareness. Simply noticing that we are having thoughts (but we are not our thoughts) is a breakthrough - one begins to shift the internal reference point from ego mind to witnessing awareness. Personally, I feel peaceful and enjoy meditation on the beach, listening to the waves of the ocean.
The ego wants quantity but the soul wants quality
The egocentric world is searching for wholeness. But as long as the egoic mind is running our life, we cannot truly be at ease; we cannot be at peace. Since the ego is a derived sense of self, it needs to identify with external things. The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work we do, our social status and recognition, knowledge, education and collective identifications. None of these are truly who we are though.
So let it go. Let it leave. Let it happen. Nothing in this world was promised or ever belonged to you. Heal your soul and your whole life will blossom.