I’m in the hinterland, surrounded by an abundance of Australian Gum trees, listening to their branches swaying in the breeze and the birds singing their songs. Its been raining, so the air is filled with an earthy aroma, that makes me feel grounded. I’m sitting on a comfy yellow arm chair, that’s on the wooden deck of the volunteer house at the Chenrezig Institute. There’s a wonderful sense of peace here, that invites calmness into my BEing, and with each breath I feel a little less anxious and a little more at ease in my new surroundings.
The woman in charge of coordinating the Work Exchange Program (WEP) is down to earth and friendly, so it was a pleasure to sit down and chat with her in the Big Love Café, which was heaving at lunch time. It was full of volunteers, general public, paying visitors on retreat, nuns and monks. She introduced me to some, but I was feeling a tad overwhelmed. I’m shocking at retaining names when I first meet people, especially when they have beautiful foreign names I can’t even pronounce properly. I need to interact and get to know someone to retain a name to memory, which there’ll be plenty of opportunities to do while living here. An opportunity presented itself within hours of being here. I was asked if I was interested in learning how to make coffee. I said YES because it’ll be a useful skill to have whilst looking for work when travelling. I love how opportunities begin to unfold on the path when aligned with our truth.
Before my orientation, I wandered to the Garden of Enlightenment with my son. We chatted about why Im here and what I hope to achieve. There were lots of little froggies hopping around our feet and I saw a red dragon fly. The garden was full of Stupas, which are symbolic of Buddhas Enlightenment.
After my orientation, I wandered into the Art Studio, where they make Stupas and roll mantras. I never realized that the heaviness of a prayer wheel is because it holds many of those rolled mantras. While I wandered back to the house, I thought about why I’m here and what I want to gain from the experience. Although I align with Buddhist core values, I have very little knowledge about the culture or their practices. So, I’m here to learn by living within the community. Apart from a few back-packing experiences, I’ve never lived in a communal setting, so I’m looking forward to this experience.
I joined a fellow volly (volunteer) for dinner, so we chatted over a yummy pea and kale soup. I don’t know why, but I seem to enjoy food so much more when someone else has either cooked or prepared it. Ive had a few one on one conversations with a few people, sharing our stories and getting to know each other. Everyone is lovely, which I never doubted considering the environment., but its refreshing to talk to others who share similar beliefs and visions.
It was quiet and cool overnight, so I slept well. The house woke up quietly, which was nice. Everyone is mindful of each other, so noise is minimal. I ate my breakfast on the deck, so I could watch the birds. A kingfisher flew down into the tree in front of me and flew back and forth between trees. I listened to a variety of different bird songs. I couldn’t identify them all, but there were plenty to see. The yellow breasted robins playfully flew back and forth, a fantailed wren flew onto the deck and a flock of female fairy wrens flew in and out of the scrub. My heart burst open and I couldn’t help but cry tears of joy, as I watched them
I’m not on the roster until tomorrow morning, so I’m free to do as I please today, so I came to the Big Love Café for lunch, bringing my lap top, so I could write and upload my blog on the book of face. Lunch was a delicious vegetarian dish packed full of nutrition and flavours. The Institute is closed to the general public Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so it’s quiet here today. It’s nice to see the comparison after such a busy day yesterday. Although it’s a communal setting, I see many people sitting alone, which reflects a respect for one another’s need for reflection and peace.
The Big Love Café is placed in the center of the Institute. From the deck where I’m sitting, it has the feel of being in a tree house because its elevated above the ground. It’s wonderful to BE amongst the trees that have rainbow Buddhist prayer flags tied to them. Its been raining on and off most of the day again today, so the sky is grey, the air is fresh, and the ground is oozing those wonderful earthy aromas. I’m overjoyed to see fairy lights hanging on the beams because they illuminate a beautiful soft light that feels magical to me.
I may sit a while and soak up the atmosphere and bliss out