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What a joyful gathering our potluck was this past Saturday May 4th! We were greeted with warmth and sunshine, plates filled with fruits, salads, and refreshing drinks to fill our cups. This celebration gave us a way to enter into a lighthearted joining of minds. Our discussions turned to our lives, and what we were up to in our day to day living. It was a chance to really get to know our community, and to learn more about each other; what our lives are like in the world, and how Swami Radha’s teachings draw people from many fields and walks of life.
As our bellies filled, and the energy calmed, we brought out the materials for making collages. With a request to create a collage, representing what Divine Mother means to you, and after chanting Hari Om to enter into a creative space, we all quietly began cutting, collecting and glueing images together. The two children who came, ages 3.5 and 6, equally became focused and intent upon their tasks at hands. At the end of our time, 9 collages filled the room, all representing Divine Mother. Looking at them, we found Divine Mother in all, and the unique nature of each person shone out through the colors and messages.
Divine Mother was very present, and we were all thankful to have been with each other in such a fun and creative atmosphere. With Light in our hearts, we took our collages home, to further our relationship to the Divine and with each other.
On Sunday April 22nd, we hosted the 4th Bhajan Blast, live-streamed from the Yasodhara Ashram. Spirits were delighted with the musicality and devotional aspect of the event. Creating a technological and heart felt bridge from the ashram out into many communities of devotees around the continent. We sat around the computer screen which was filled with shining faces of recent graduates from the YDC (Yoga Development Course), residents and Swamis at the ashram. Our hearts were filled with beautiful bhajans, our ears with the sweet sound of the Elastic Band’s music.
As the time came for Prassad and Aarti, Prassad being the act of eating something sweet to express gratitude for the sweetness in our lives, and Aarti being when we pass the 5 candles around asking that our 5 senses be purified by Divine Light, one couldn’t help but realise that there were many groups of people doing the same thing, at the same time spread out across the land, and that all together we created a web of Light between us all, reaching out into the world.
We will be hosting Bhajan Blast 5 sometime next month. So stayed tuned or sign up for our newsletters here, to find out what’s happening next at Radha!
The Kundalini Study Group meets on Tuesdays from 6:30-8:30 pm, with teacher Janet Bond. who graciously offers the classes out of her home near the shores of Jericho Beach. In a creative and intuitive way, the Kundalini Study Group classes continues under Janet’s guidance at Radha 210-1529 West 6th Ave, when Janet is away.
The study group is open to anyone would like to learn a bit more about themselves, gaining the power and insights required to create positive change within. Working with Swami Radhananda’s new book, Living the Practice, has found us engaging in timeless teachings in very succint and straightforward ways. As the Light wraps around us, and our mind slows, we’re able to hear the quiet voice within, the energy shift in the room is palpable. And by the end of the classes all faces are lit with smiles. It is possible to be spiritual in the city, to find that illusive peace we all so lovingly want. And as Swami Radhananda says:
“The western challenge is to bring yoga into daily life. We can’t readily do what Eastern tradition prescribes: sit in a cave or wander India living as an ascetic. We have to go inwards, and that knowledge has to be brought out again. The understanding that grows out of our practice of yoga needs to be put into action. We need to transplant the seeds of yoga into our lives.”
For our first week of classes, at our new location 210-1529 West 6th Avenue, we had a Hatha class taught by Emma Pang, a Hidden Language class taught by Swami Lalitananda, and a Kundalini Study Group taught via correspondence by Janet Bond. The week was full of shining gifts: old students coming to classes, some having been away for quite some time, and new students arriving to learn more fully.
As students stretched their bodies and minds, reaching out into Triangle Pose, looking into the deeper meanings of the Little Bridge pose, the room shifted and became stiller. The space became lighter, and everything simpler. Insights had life breathed into them, and came floating gently to the surface of everyone’s minds.
The thoughtfullness people showed for each other during this time of transition are a tribute to the caring and compassionate individuals who come to Radha and make the classes, workshops, community what it is. And so to every single person who walks through our doors, thank you. For all of the kindness, and consideration you bring to Radha, for the laughter and the tears….thank you from us all.
In Light and Gratitude,
Emma Pang, Elizabeth Quinn, Janet Bond and Lisa Sars.
People began arriving about 15 minutes before Satsang began, conversations erupted, with many smiles and much laughter filling Radha. Memories of the first days at Radha were recalled, and all the various incarnations she has traversed during her time at 728 Main Street.
Stories abounded, and quietly subsided as we all found our chairs, pillows for Satsang. The joy of Satsang burst forth with a lively chanting to Tara, and moved us all into Light. Joining in a circle, we stood for the Divine Light Invocation, bringing Light into all those lives who have played such an important role in keeping the Light going, and into our own hearts and bodies. The essence of Swami Radha’s teachings living is us all.
Sharing her memories of Radha, Swami Lalitananda told the story of how it all began, and now how it is changing, moving from here into Emma Pang’s lovely new space. And then she spoke to the deities, Tara is returning to ashram after many years away, and Kuan Yin is going for the first time, while a smaller Tara, who started at the ashram, and Kuan Yin who was found in Chinatown, are coming down from their alcoves, to form the new altar at Emma’s. Many blessings ensued, with deities leaning in to kiss each other’s cheeks, and them sitting in the warmth of their mantras.
And then it was time, time to carry Tara and Kuan Yin down to Swami Lalitananda’s car, the chariot to take them home. Donning coats and boots, friends joined hands to carry them down the stairs, Tara floating effortlessly above the ground, and Kuan Yin held in Emma’s arms. Chanting Tara we watched as their seat belts buckled and said our final farewells.
Returning to the warm glow of Satsang and to our new altar, now blessed with our new Tara and Kuan Yin, we took time to express gratitude, and share more stories of our times here. People spoke from their hearts, and Tara and Kuan Yin looked on, positively glowing, beaming Light and compassion forth.
And as our song filled the building with the palpable warmth that is Radha, we said our goodbyes to each other, our stories changing to ones of the future. Ideas started springing up, of perhaps sharing rides to Radha’s new space, some people can now walk to classes, others were asking which buses are best…and the Light, keeps going, as Swami Radhananda said, “We would just keep moving the Light in the beginning (in Lethbridge), we would carry it to wherever it was needed, setting up in a new space. Changes happened but the Light kept going, and this is what matters. This is what is important. Keep the Light going, it’s easy.” and Gem had called out: “Because it’s Light!”
Namaste Lisa Sars
The goodbye party at Radha celebrating 10 years of Radha on February 23 was so sweet and simple.
People started arriving around 5-pm, with just a small group at first. Some practicing yoga in the studio, and others sharing stories of Radha – how they found the centre and the teachings.
It was nice at the gathering to hear how much Radha helped people. People talked about Radha as being a beginning place for a happier life thanks to the teachings; and others talked about how Radha helped them to step into their first real work in their field. Many old timers and new came together to express their gratitude for Radha.
Potted Primulas had been placed out on all the tables, with small tea lights surrounding them, a joyful mix of color and Light. And the table of food, slowly started filling up with sushi, fruit, samosas, salads and many other tasty items as more and more people arrived. Andrea created a delicious mint-chocolate pudding cake and Oliver came to play some music for us.
Swami Lalitananda led us into the studio for a toast to Radha, champagne in hand, and then Swami Radhananda started us all off on a circular toasting, so all people cheered with each other, and people shared their feelings of gratitude for the centre and space, and to Emma and her willingness to offer her space for a new home for Radha.
It has been a beautiful space made more beautiful by the people who have filled it.
The building itself evolved—with green renovations letting in light, space and openness. The teachers from Yasodhara Ashram—myself from 2004-2010, Swami Matananada (then Deborah) from 2010-11; and Swami Jyotihananda from 2011-12 have all grown through our involvement here. And Radha has gathered many talented, creative, dedicated people who have given and received, developed and blossomed through their time at Radha.
The community that has been built will not disappear; we are connected through friendship and Light. And the essence of the work is transportable, with the help of the continuing teachers—Elizabeth Quinn, Janet Bond and Emma Pang — and the enthusiasm of students like Lisa Sars. We thank Emma for offering her new work/live space to become home for the upcoming classes and satsangs. Keep on going!
In the Light, Swami Lalitananda
Satsang has continued through the Fall with Lisa Sars committed to leading it and keeping the space available for anyone who wants to come and take part. The altar with our beautiful Tara and Quan Yin is a reminder to everyone that we are connected to a spiritual tradition that honours the feminine and the Light.
At the end of September Ruth Campbell, a Yasodhara trained teacher offered a Relaxation workshop which was well received by a large group of Radha students and teachers. It was much appreciated as participants were able to take the time relax and let go and listen within.
We also had two events at Radha this Fall. A Dharma talk was offered by Ven. Pannavarti a Buddhist nun from South Carolina. The ancient truths rang through her words, with a delightfully human outlook. As well Lisa Chase was back to display her intriguing photographic work, along with artist Wendy Deakins, whose photos reveal the beauty found in nature’s imperfections. The show was Intuitive and inviting, complex and simple offering a delightful afternoon of rich experience.
The Radha teachers offered an end of term workshop series on December 2nd with a day of Hatha Yoga and making personal reflections from Swami Radhananda’s book Living the Practice. It felt warm and cozy, a great way to prepare for Winter. Everyone who came felt renewed and ready to carry the Light into the holiday season.
We held our annual Rose Ceremony on the Summer Solstice this year, celebrating the Light and deepening our commitments to the best in ourselves. Thirty-four of us of varied ages and lifestyles gathered around the altar at Radha in a willingness to make a commitment to the Divine. Devotees started arriving about 15 minutes early, many taking the time when they arrived to write down their grudges and resentments from the comfort of the couches, while the altar slowly filled with the beautiful roses everyone brought.
Swami Jyotihananda opened the ceremony with a beautiful talk, bringing light to the meaning of the Rose Ceremony and soon the sounds of Hari Om filled the space as we settled into the present. One by one we came to gather in groups of four as the rose bowl filled with petals and gently swelled with the heartfelt surrendering of pairs of opposites and requests for Divine Love in return. After the last rose was given, the whole room shifted into a stretching, smiling group, newly inspired to find the best in ourselves and throw all our previous grudges out the door!
So began the second half of the Rose Ceremony, with a joyful chanting of Om Namah Sivaya, we gathered around a giant pot from the kitchen to burn away all we had written down on pieces of paper. As the commitments to let go burst into flames, Radha filled up with an equal amount of smoke, and much giggling and laughing ensued. Giggling aside though, it felt like the Divine was letting us know exactly how much all of the grudges and resentments we carry cloud our ability to see things clearly! The smoke cleared away revealing all of us, gathered in small groups, happily talking and connecting with each other.
A feeling of love abounded, and we left carrying the gifts of Divine Love, minds enraptured with the kind and compassionate thoughts growing within, and hearts rejoicing for the glowing insights the Light carried into our lives as humans dancing into the Divine.