Taking My Yoga & Meditation Practice on Vacation By Matrika (Marlene) Gast

Marlene Gast

Marlene Gast

In June, I took time off from running my Svaroopa® yoga studio and teaching to complete a manuscript that I’ve been working on for a decade. It got started the same summer that I landed on the Svaroopa® yoga and meditation path at Core Opening with Swamiji. Now, more interested in writing about experiences in Svaroopa® yoga and meditation, I feel the weight of that unfinished writing project; it’s like a bag full of yarn and the half-knitted sweater. If it were just a bag of yarn, I could donate it to a thrift store for a real knitter to complete. But the yarn is in my own body and mind, so I need to finish the writing to move forward more freely.

So for my five-day vacation on a Wyoming ranch with my writing group, I packed my meditation asana and shawl, two foam yoga blocks and one Triple Alert Timer. They turned out to be essential items in so many ways. My bunkhouse room was tiny with two cot-size beds and a sink. I chose one bed for sleeping and the other as a “meditation platform,” where I stacked bed pillows for a Sukhasana seat against one wall. In the space between the twin beds, the bedside table held the meditation card with photos of Swamiji and Swami Muktananda, and the floor in front provided just enough room for my blocks and the practice of Lunge.

Every morning this set-up gave me a sweetly soothing foundation for bed yoga followed by meditation.  That start to each day served as a grounding, opening, integrating retreat within my vacation. Besides the task of trying to finish a writing project, joining my writing group for these five days was like being in a family reunion — lots of shared history, affection and, well, “other stuff.”  At meals, japa was a special blessing as I listened to streams of conversation about ways to eat, ways to sleep, reasons to write, multitudes of approaches for dissolving writer’s block etc. etc. At times I was reminded of the biblical Tower of Babel, as though everyone at the table held forth in a different language. Om Namah Shivaya repeated silently, with sweet pauses in between the repetitions of mantra, kept me in sight of the One Reality within, a beautiful place to rest in silence, even while a chorus of competing recommendations for solving a multitude of personal problems filled my ears. When I allowed myself to settle into Self, it was even possible to respond cheerfully to “stuff” that did get close to pushing my various buttons. Yes, I was grateful to have packed my props, and continued my practices throughout vacation. The only buttons that got pushed were the buttons on my trusty timer.

During quiet hours in my little room with my notebooks, I made headway on my project, and took breaks on my “practice bed” for Ujjayi Pranayama, pillows under my knees.  I didn’t finish the manuscript, but I made respectable headway. Soon it will be done, I believe.  In the meantime, vacationing with this writing in the cradle of my Svaroopa® yoga and meditation practices has given me a new perspective on this project. I’m looking at the work to complete it as tapas — clearing up a “moldy oldie” — so there’s less baggage on the road ahead.

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