Sometimes it’s good to stop and think, “am I still me?” “Who am I?” I like to think that my friends, the ones who don’t see me everyday, would recognize me. That I can still find common ground with those who I was close with in my recent past. That’s one thing about living so far from urban civilization – you can get a little out of touch.
There is a balance that I’m working on. A balance that can be quite tricky – how to stay in tune with my spiritual life and stay in touch with the world. Ananda, the spiritual community where I live, is a rural place. It’s a community founded on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda; a community created to show the world how you can live a spiritual life while fulfilling your dharma (duty) in the world. Yogic principles are integrated into every facet of life here. From blessing the food to living by principles like “people are more important than things” and “God is the doer” and “where there is adherence to right action, there is victory” – Ananda is built on the bedrock of the deeper practice of yoga.
Balancing my community life, spiritual life and home life is consuming. I floss. exercise. meditate. eat. work. play. pay bills. clean. It takes 30 minutes by car to reach the nearest drug store. Going out to eat is a major production. My commute takes a whopping 5 minutes, which means I hear about 1 story on NPR before I turn off the engine and enter my office. With a full time job crunched into 25 hours and a toddler nipping at my heals, there’s very little time for current events or catching up with friends that I don’t happen to see everyday. I’m not complaining, just expressing how easy it is to lose touch with…EVERYTHING and everyone.
There is another side of the coin here to consider too. Yogananda and Swami Kriyananda, his disciple, counseled frequently the importance of choosing an uplifting environment to support your spiritual life. “Environment is stronger than will,” Yogananda said. Spiritual communities are a way to do that; a way to build a life that supports your spiritual growth. And yet, isolation isn’t part of the teaching. Self-realization is a teaching for our entire planet. It gives a road map to enlightenment in this world, for anyone, from any background, in any situation. Of the five great Master’s who brought this teaching to the world in our time, two were married and had children. One was an accountant…seriously. This isn’t meant to be a path where you go live in a monastery on a hill – that was the only way to have a spiritual life 2,000 years ago, but not today.
I can’t say that I have the answers yet. Only that I’m a work in progress. It helps that technology exists; that I can pop online and catch the headlines of the day off the New York Times website quickly. It helps that I still love to travel and am doing my best to visit friends and family as much as possible. It helps that my job as Director of Development for Ananda connects me with people outside my immediate social circle, sometimes.
But, I still have a ways to go. I still have to work hard to balance my life. And, at times, I still wonder if people recognize that I am still me – just a new version…Gita 2.0. Sending love and light to all my friends around the world! You know who you are 🙂