Setting A Course
I made a conscious decision last year to spend winter in a warm climate. However, as my recent I travels were soon to reveal, existence had other ideas about this. Another decision, to start the New Year with meditation, turned out to be a good (and nourishing!) one. I have to say I have never enjoyed a winter season like this one.
And so my winter’s tale unfolds. The Russian events fulfilled a long-long dream to experience Moscow in the Christmas season. What a magical city it is in the snow: fairy lights around every corner, giant Christmas trees in every square, not to mention the wonderful architecture. But the real beauty in a country is its people and in this sense, the Russians are warm-hearted, sincere, and enthusiastic — all of which made the events and my time there a pleasure.
From Moscow, my travels took me to Turkey for two weeks. The new workshop center of my organizer Kareemi, Aletya, was a joy to work in. I had some extra days between events, so I used the opportunity to learn about the long and amazing history of Istanbul. Turkey is a part of the world I am still very unfamiliar with. Interestingly, it is one of the few countries to have given birth to an enlightened being (Rumi). Although Sufism was heavily repressed when Turkey modernized at the beginning of the last century, I experience the vibrations of meditation and spiritual ecstasy still tangible and accessible. This was my third visit to Istanbul. I always leave the city with a feeling to come back and explore it more thoroughly. One normally thinks of Turkey as a warm place but alas, winter seemed to be following me as it snowed heavily during my last days. At this time, it began to dawn on me I was fulfilling a destiny of which I had no choice but to accept and go deeper into — not meditation, but snow!
Athens, my next stop, had no snow (at least in the city) but was cold. If one has any knowledge of the Greeks, one knows they are are also warm and welcoming people, so my days there were nice. I made some new friends and also enjoyed meeting some old ones: such as Ranjana and Sundaram, two wonderful musicians, and the staff at Essence Human-Space where the events happened. In my spare time, I played in Sundaram’s home studio exploring creative ideas with him. Also, the idea was crystalized for a summer festival at Afroz Center on the Island of Lesvos. It will be five days of music, creativity, meditation, dance, good food, beach, and more. So if you have any ideas for a summer vacation later this year (mid-august), keep it in mind. Lesvos is a special place and Afroz a special atmosphere. Did I mention the gorgeous beaches? View the tour schedule page for more details.
The recent January 2010 events are especially significant because they indicate the tone for things to come — new directions, new horizons. I know such things as time distinctions are imaginary lines in the sand — where the old ends and the new begins, what difference does in make in the bigger picture of things? — yet I do feel the New Year marked a fresh beginning for me personally with the potential to expand in love and meditation.
Athens was my last event in a tour cycle that began last March 2009. I transited Hamburg, Germany on my return to Denmark where at the Osho RISK Center a five-day Vipassana group was in progress, creating a lovely “going in” atmosphere. This — combined with my walks through the frozen Danish landscape, some fun kitchen work, live-music for the evening meditation, stoking the wood stove in the office and hanging out with the cat –- all contributed to a long-overdue unwinding from eleven continuous months on the road, a let-go that continues even at this writing.
My dance with winter was not over, however. My flight from Copenhagen was re-routed to New York instead of Washington, D.C. because of another giant, impending snowstorm. I reached America only to be stranded as all the airports began closing down. Winter whispered in my ear this lesson: Every season has its own beauty, every cloud a silver lining. Sometimes one needs to pull back the lens on one’s life and re-focus to see the apparent blessings. Looked at from one direction, my being stranded could be taken as a major disaster — certainly, if one were to watch the TV news where even the weather is a talked about as a terrorist plot, it was. Looked at from another perspective, it is can be a gift. Which it actually was as it provided me the unexpected opportunity to visit my brother, Isa, who lives in Brooklyn. So for a few stranded days, we played as brothers will, in the snow, oblivious to the TV commentary and so-called white disaster falling all around us.
I caught a re-scheduled flight out to Washington after a few days and my onward journey took me ever-deeper into winter. I arrived to Virginia where the population was digging out of the second biggest snowfall of a century. At this part of my journey, I smiled, realizing actually all my life I have loved the snow, in all its beautiful, white, and divine majesty. Not for the disater it brings, but for the magic it brings.
I’ve arranged the photos chronologically so they tell a winter story, tracing my footsteps since the last update. They also document the unfolding weather pattern I began experiencing just before Christmas in Virginia before my flight to Europe. There’s a famous Zen saying: Spring comes and the grass grows by itself. After these last few month’s experience, I would like to change it a little with all due respect to Basho. You guessed it! Winter comes and the snow falls by itself. And so far, it hasn’t stopped.
Preparing for Europe
Christmas – Osho RISK Center, Denmark
New Year Celebration – Moscow, Russia
New Year Meditation Festival – Moscow, Russia
Meditation Facilitator’s Training – Istanbul, Turkey
Essence Human Space Center – Athens, Greece
Osho RISK Center – Denmark
Brooklyn, New York City
Now is the “winter of my heart’s content” — Virginia