This weekend marks the first of twelve special weekends over the next year which are part of a year-long meditation at the Himalayan Institute. HI is the home of my teacher's teacher, Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD. Because my teacher, Rod Stryker, lives outside of Aspen, Colorado and spends many weeks of the year on the road delivering advanced trainings, I do not get the chance to be in his presence as often as I would like. Time and distance present a hurdle.
However, in lieu of being in Yogarupa Rod Stryker's presence I can somewhat conveniently hop in my car, make my way across the US border, and arrive at HI in about five hours. It is nestled in the centre of Pennsylvania near a town called Honesdale. The community features a large parcel of land with the "Sound of Music" hillside, lots of deer, and a facility housed in what once was a Jesuit seminary. It's not 5-star but it is wonderfully welcoming and warming to the soul.
In November of 2009 I concluded the Master Training with Rod which was held at the Institute. He uses HI for his modules that require an in-residence experience, so I had been there for three. I learned to love the peaceful nature of the place; the kindness and compassion of its staff and residence. The next two years were spent doing other requirements for my certification as a ParaYoga teacher. During this time I maintained a connection with the Institute through its Living Tantra program. This series was conducted over six weekends from the summer of 2010 ending in the summer of 2011. It was a rich series that opened my heart and mind to a deeper understanding of tantra.
These weekends became a strong connection to spiritual community. There are people from all walks of life who attended - young, elderly, and everyone inbetween. Every weekend I would drive home feeling replenished and renewed. The shakti that imbues the Institute from its original use through the years of Swami Rama's presence and over the last decade and a half with Panditji is potent. One can't help but feel lighter, clearer and more connected when they leave.
The teachings of the tradition of yoga are clear: we need to be in the company of seekers and teachers to evolve. This mini-pilgrimage is worth taking. The Institute offers the teachings of one of the world's preeminent tantrics, an adept of yoga, who is such a sweet and kind man: Panditji. We need not visit India for authentic yoga, but be open to authentic teachers and they will come. For those of you who can't make it to HI I promise to bring back some of its shakti and share it with you through my teaching.
Om Shanti, peace, peace, peace....