This inteview was conducted at the Yashodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada on the beautiful Kootenay Lake.This is part 3 of 3 parts.
(Some sections have been edited for grammar.)
Candess: When you are talking about that, some of the yogas like the Divine Light Invocation is one of the tools I have been using here and there are so many tools. It has been incredible. What is one of your favorite tools?
Swami Samayananda: For me, one of my favorites is Mantra. I have had a mantra practice since early 1980s. I also do my practice with a harmonium, which I like. There is that whole practice of having an instrument. I tend to be restless by nature so it gives my hands something to do. Also, singing has been a big part of my life. To be able to channel all of that into the mantra and to have a practice like that that doesn’t get old, it just keeps getting deeper and deeper and it feels to me like a dear friend. It is where I go each day and it offers me tremendous support.
Candess: I love the Satsang. The chanting and the mantra is so beautiful. I have a book coming out in January that is called 12 Weeks to Self-Healing: The Gift of Pain. What way would you say that one of the Yoga practices would be helpful in self-healing?
Swami Samayananda: Swami Radha wrote a book called The Yoga of Healing. In it, there are several chapters. Some I remember are working with the Light. It is a small book and at the end of each chapter it has four practices you can do. The first one is on the Light and the Divine Light Invocation is one practice. There is also a section on breath. We know that connection with breath and our own healing and when we get anxious, the breath shortens, shortens, and shortens. That is not healthy for the body. Working with breath is healthy and calming for the body. Also, Hatha Yoga, especially when it I approached from more than the physical. What is my body saying to me as I am going into the pose and doing the pose. Mantra, absolutely for sure. Especially the Hari Om mantra is a healing mantra. Using mantra is healing as well. Relaxation is very healing. Those are a few.
Candess: That is great! One of the reasons I came her is to rest. I had been pushing myself too hard. We had a whole day on learning to rest. I learned so many tools that I would not have known before. It’s been very helpful.
If someone wanted to go on retreat here, what would be the best way for them to find out about the programs?
Swami Samayananda: The best way would be to go to our website and just take a look at what we offer. There is a whole range from weekend workshops to 3 day retreats, 4 day retreats, 10 day retreats like you are on now, to our 3 month Yoga Development Course. There is just about something for everybody. Our basic retreats really introduce people to the practices we offer here, Swami Radha’s teachings. There are some specific ones, like we have one coming up called the Inner Life of Asanas which is a way of going deeper with the Hatha Yoga practice. We had one this summer not too long ago called Facing Change, Exploring Options, so there are lots of different ways for people to come and be here. People can also come on private retreat and join with us for a couple hours in Karma Yoga so they feel connected in the community. The rest of the times, they can enjoy the prayer rooms. It is beautiful as you said. The trails, the lake, the Temple, the library are all available for people when they are here.
Candess: I went to the Temple the other night and I could just feel Swami Radha there. I thought, this must be her favorite place.
Swami Samayananda: – It is.
Candess: It was so clear to me. It was so beautiful there.
Swami Samayananda: – She said when she died, that is where she would go.
Candess: I have another guide that I work with and I was connecting with this guide, but Swami Radha was right there, so I thought OKAY!
Is there anything else that would be helpful for people to know about being a Swami or your life path or being here at the Ashram.
Swami Samayananda: I think one thing that is important for people to know about coming here is it is a time of renewing, learning some practices, some tools as you said to take away. There is no dogma in yoga. There is not doctrine. It is not a religion. I think it is really important. We are an Ashram; it is a spiritual community, so we have people who come who are Buddhist, who are Christian, who practice in the Jewish faith, Muslims, and people who have no particular tradition that they follow but are open to that spiritual dimension and they just want to take a step further. I think that is often a relief.
When people come, we do have imagery around. Imagery and symbolism whether we know it or not is very important to us. We live it anyway and symbols are there simply as a symbol that is reflecting some in ourselves so sometimes for some people, and part because of our Christian Judaic background in the West, images can be a little off-putting; but they are so beautiful and the have so much to say to us if we open them up and take them apart. I think the biggest thing is it is a beautiful place to be, to heal, to renew, to gain perspective and then take what is meaningful back out; bridge it back out to your life, back home, family, friends, work, whatever. Often people will come back and get a little bit more and take it back, back and forth. That is what I did for years.
Candess: That is wonderful! It took me probably to day eight until I started feeling myself again, so it was such a wonderful place to renew and relax. Thank you so much.
Swami Samayananda: Namaste
The end. . .
During the blogging workshop this morning put on by Jeff Gish and Pia Hallenberg Christensen, I met a young man who was new to Spokane. We chatted about what brought him here and I thought about having lived in Spokane all my life. I remember saying when I left, check out the Spokane River.
When I think about Spokane, what I love is the river.
I’ve walked the Spokane River for nearly 30 years now. Originally I walked near Gonzaga University and now in Peaceful Valley where I live.
Domingo, my Cairn terrier mix and I love the walk to People’s Park. We walk across the Sanifer Bridge and I delight in feeling the water mist up on my skin. A cacophony of birds lead us deeper in the park where Latah Creek intersects with the Spokane River. The creek, also known as Hangman Creek changes seasonally from being like a rolling river, to a frozen lake and in late summer to a few puddles you can walk across. My favorite time is in the early spring when the frozen creek breaks and 6-inch ice chucks feed the river.
The Spokane River is a photographer’s dream!
Latah, or Hangman Creek is an area where the Spokane Indians used to camp. My friends, Bill Kostelec, The Blue Ribbon Tea Company wrote a song, The Pride of Vinegar Flats about this.
Enough writing, we’re going for a walk!