It has been 2 months since I arrived in Greece and moved into the small 200 year old stone house in the little village on the hill.
Life is reduced and simple. There is "nothing" here,... as they say. No cafés, restaurants, shops....yes, even the few neighbours have almost all left for their winter homes in Athens. The only ones still here are an old couple and an old lady with her dog. When we see each other we "talk" very affectionately and open-heartedly....she in Greek and I in English....just for the sake of talking. She doesn't understand anything I say and I only understand "it's cold", and "so much rain" and I think she also wants to tell me that she has pain in her joints.
And when I need a break from my long hours of daily computer work that come with the online "business", I go for a little walk. I have made friends with an incredibly fat old dog. She lives all alone in the garden of a house. The old lady who lives here in the summer is probably in Athens now as well. The dog has been left behind and someone comes to give her food every day, but that's it. She is so happy when I show up, lets me pet her through the fence and jumps up and down like a puppy that wants to play. Then I run with her along the whole length of the fence, back and forth a few times, and she really picks up speed despite her enormous volume, or maybe because of it. The exercise is good for both of us. And there is no one around to watch anyway.
So I think this "nothing" that exists here is pretty great....
Heavily loaded orange, tangerine and lemon trees that no one is harvesting,
breathtaking views....the sea, the green hills...the little villages spread out far....
I have room to breathe. The mind has space to expand. The price for this is being alone. And the tolerating the cold.
On the whole peninsula, apart from the one small "town", there is only one taverna open outside of the tourist season. And that too only in reduced take - away mode. The reason for this is that dividing neighbours, friends and families, letting them in or turning them away according to their vaccination status is out of question. Community is everything here.
Because it's quite a long drive to the "city" for me, and the dry sunny days aren't that frequent either - mostly it pours down while gusts of wind whip across the land at high speed - I only get to go to shops and socialise once a week.
My kitchen is stocked with a variety of gluten-free grains - amaranth, quinoa, teff, rice, millet - in the form of flakes, flour and pasta....and an equal variety of lentils..... Some vegetables are still in the garden....tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, parsley, rosemary.
It is getting colder and colder now, which is a challenge, especially when the heavy thunderstorms are pressing the rain through the doors and windows and puddles form in the rooms. There is no way to properly heat the house.
While I have not consciously sought to be alone, and in the past 2 years since the beginning of the restrictions it has always caused me problems to suddenly have so little human exchange, I notice how I have now begun not only to make friends with being alone, but to enjoy it. The feeling of isolation is turning more and more into the feeling of being all-one.
Because I am not really alone here.... there is so much life! The closeness of nature gives me peace... the howling of the storms, the bells of the flocks of sheep and goats, the sun and moon whose pathways over the sky I can see... and even the occasional small earthquake.
Feeling life and its elemental force and also the uncertainty in it gives me more inner peace than feeling cut off from nature in an urban environment, safe from any "danger".
The great art is certainly to feel the same peace, the same vastness of spirit, the same connection with the natural cycles no matter where you are.
Because there is no place where nature is not... everywhere it makes its way, no matter how much we push it back...Our own body is nothing but nature. But with all the noise from outside, can we even listen to it?
I came here with the enthusiasm and intention to acquire a piece of land and create a place where we can practice, where it is easy to remember what is essential. Where the presence of the elements, sun and moon, wind, rain, sea and wide open space inform our practice. Where in the mirror of nature's beauty the face of the divine, the sacred, the eternal can be seen in every moment.
A place where those who feel the call come together, not just to dive deep into the practice, but also experiment with a simple, alternative life-style.
"Simple" does not necessarily mean easy, of course, because it also means giving up our familiar comforts.
For me, the need for an "alternative" is now more palpable than ever.
The positive thing about all these insane current developments is that it can become really clear now what we want and what we don't want.
If we didn't know what we wanted until now, we are now a giant step further in knowing what is certainly not for us.
It may sound strange, but I am grateful for pain, fear and anxiety for pointing me so effectively to where my safety is actually to be found and where it is not. In clinging to the temporary appearances of the world, it obviously is not. The world is adorable.... but as long as we don't know what the origin is, who we ourselves are, and what remains when everything external fades, we won't find safety, freedom, or fulfilment in the world, no matter how hard we try.
The motivation to wake up from a bad dream is much greater than to wake up from a beautiful dream. Better to keep dreaming a little longer... while it is still possible...
Our awakening is the great opportunity of this time.
It is the mostly unappreciated gift of Goddess Dhumavati, the "Smoke Maker", one of the 10 tantric wisdom goddesses. Through the inevitable experience of pain, suffering and loss, she makes us realise what is fleeting and therefore cannot satisfy us. She directs our gaze away from temporal things towards the realisation of the inner light. Towards the eternal reality beyond the small temporary reality that we now still think is the only one.
What really counts? What do I really want?
It is a pure grace when the fiery Goddess Bhairavi, begins to rise on the horizon of our consciousness like the morning sun after a long dark night....She brings absolute clarity in which direction we want to look - outward or inward? And while on the outside it may not be clear which direction to go in the next moment, the alignment and focus within is crystal clear.... I am eternal divine consciousness, I am loved and guided, I am no longer unsettled or distracted by anything. This full realisation and experience is all I want.
In class we often speak of the deepest longing, the one desire, the highest goal, awakening, being one.... What is actually meant by this?
For the logical mind these concepts are so difficult to grasp....
It is the clarity of being ready to take the leap into the unknown, which is at the same time a leap into the safe arms of the Divine. The ego is afraid because it loses its existence, but for the soul the door of the cage opens and it spreads its wings....
"You say you want to be free from the ties of this world.
But actually it can be seen that, like a kite that is held by a string, you are unable to remain without support or guidance of some sort. If you want to be liberated you must be like a bird that has broken its chain and, without a thought of food or shelter, fearlessly soars up into the sky."
Sri Ma Anandamayi
It means no longer relying on the judgement of the ego, which is after all always motivated by worries, fears, one's own advantage and calculation, but putting full trust in the "higher will", knowing that everything that happens is meant to be, even if we cannot see the bigger picture. That from the biggest event to the tiniest detail, everything follows universal laws, and ultimately happens for our good and for the good of the whole. That the universe is not a hostile place, but our home and that all paths lead us back there. No matter whether we take the long or the short roads.
By being willing to surrender, to stop putting up resistence or holding on too tightly, a great weight falls from us and we find ease, freedom and joy.
When we flow with life, the narrow limitations of our "personality" soften and we perceive ourselves as One with All.
Consciousness becomes one with the current of life. The physical body will eventually leave, but the stream of life and consciousness remains....
Of course, it is easier said than done and we go through many, many cycles, many, many lifetimes before this clarity becomes an unchangeable reality. Step by step we are all on the way there.
And so I too have no choice but to wait trustingly for the next step. Due to the current developments in Austria, Greece and so many other countries, my enthusiasm to buy land here has subsided. At the right time, the right thing will happen. What lies ahead is still unknown.
But at this moment I look back at the year 2021 with gratitude.
In the two 5-month workshop series, with the 5 elements and the wisdom goddesses,
we were able to dive so deeply together. I am in awe of the participants who have practiced with so much joy and dedication, applying the practice in their lives and experiencing such profound positive changes.
Although we have not been able to meet in person for so long now, the opportunity to work online has created a beautiful community. Even though we are all in different places and countries mastering our lives, we are always connected through our common practice and mutual exchange.
Also, this year for the first time we have realised the online teaching with Gurusharanji in India! The Satsangs on Sunday mornings, have become such a great enrichment and source of inspiration for many! How precious this connectedness is in these times.
Knowing that nothing is in our hands, but it is up to us to do our best nonetheless, there are beautiful plans for the New Year.
After a 3 week break we will start again in mid January with the weekly Hatha Yoga class and a new cycle of Sunday morning Satsangs with Gurusharanji.
In addition, the 2 big workshop series, that of the 5 elements, and that of the Mahavidyas will take place as 5-6 week intensive programmes!
Not only to practise intensively during these intense times, but also to prepare the ground for a very special practice that is very close to my heart. I don't want to give too much away yet, but i can say that it is about the moon, its phases and the corresponding goddesses, because each day holds its own valuable opportunity for growth, cycle after cycle.
I would really love to plan a spring retreat here in Greece. But here too the restrictions are becoming more and more severe and that makes it very difficult. Offering an event where only half of our students and friends can come and the others have to be excluded is not in our spirit. I have not given up hope yet....
If you are interested in a retreat in mid-May, please write me a short message.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)