Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Sunday Salon in the Snow

It's the Sunday Salon in the snow here today. The snow is melting now, but when I woke up this morning my world had turned white. So I've put a picture of the view from the window in the header. It's not a lot of snow, but enough to bother Lucy. She ventured outside and dashed back in.


She was at the top of the steps when I started to take the photo, but I wasn't quick enough to catch her.

This week I finished reading Consequences - more about that later - and I read The Secret Garden. I'm still reading Eat, Pray, Love. I thought I had to return it to the library because someone else had reserved it but when I took it back they let me renew it.


I'm now reading the Pray section and am really glad that I never decided to go to an Ashram. For some years I too practised Yoga. I was very keen and trained to be a teacher, so I'm very interested in this section of the book. Elizabeth Gilbert certainly had a hard time, adjusting to the ways of the Ashram and struggled with the meditation. The schedule sounds gruelling - the day begins at 3.00am and ends at 9.00pm. There are hours of meditation and contemplation;before breakfast there is an hour of meditation, twenty-minute chanting of the first morning hymn and then the Gurigita, an excerpt from a holy ancient Yogic scripture is chanted. This is 182 verses long in Sanscrit and takes an hour and half to perform. Elizabeth writes

"Over the few weeks that I've been here, my feelings about the Gurugita have shifted from simple dislike to solid dread. I've started skipping it and doing other things with my morning that I think are much better for my spiritual growth, like writing in my journal or taking a shower, or calling my sister back in Pennsylvania and seeing how her kids are doing."

This is one of the things I like about this book, she's down to earth and open about her feelings. It also gives a balanced view. When I taught Yoga I was rather shocked by some people's ideas and attitudes towards it. I was told by some Christians that by doing the Yoga postures you are worshipping "gods" or "evil spirits". I like what Elizabeth says:

"While some of these practices tend to look rather Hindu in their derivation, Yoga is not synonymous with Hinduism. True Yoga neither competes with nor precludes any other religion. You may use your Yoga - your disciplined practices of sacred union - to get closer to Krishna, Jesus, Mohammad, Budda or Yahweh."

Another quote:

"Yoga is about self-mastery and the dedicate effort to haul your attention away from your endless brooding over he past and your nonstop worrying about the future so that you can seek, instead, a place of eternal presence from which you may regard yourself and your surroundings with poise. Only from that point of even-mindedness will the true nature of the world (and yourself) be revealed to you."

Later today I'm hoping to read some more of Les Miserables but as I've started to read Revelation, C J Sansom's latest book, I may continue with that. I'd also like to start reading Oliver Twist because I was watching I'd Do Anything last night - the search for Nancy and Oliver for the West End show. I haven't read this and want to know how Dickens portrayed Nancy.

I don't think I'll manage all this but I'm always wanting to read more.

One last photo showing mysterious tracks round the bird feeder on the front lawn.

Not really mysterious - I think it was one of the two wood pigeons who regularly pay a visit.

14 comments:

Table Talk said...

I love watching animals playing in the snow. There was a dog out on my walk this morning throwing a stick up in the air and rushing round and round before catching it, just, as far as I could see, for the sheer joy of it. I do so agree with you about the yoga. I've had one or two sideways looks as well from people who have looked on it as something alien and other. Whereas for me it as a life saver in terms of helping me to concentrate on and live in the present. Not to mention the help it gives my joints.

J. Kaye Oldner said...

I just love your pictures! I was just over at Table Talk where there was snow too. I'm located in the southern part of Louisiana and we'll be in shorts today. So no fun in the snow for us here.

I have "Eat, Pray, Love" in my TBR pile. I look forward to reading it!

litlove said...

Love the tracks! I was wondering about the possibility of having snow tracks in the same way that you get crop circles. I'd like to imagine that the animal kingdom might be that creative and that organised!

ravenousreader said...

Oh my, I have to say I'm glad you have the snow this time! We've had such a hard winter here in the midwestern US that I think we've earned our sunshine and warm temperatures today!

I enjoyed Eat Pray Love for the same reason - she was really honest about the things she found difficult in her experiences, and how that helped her to grow.

Paula Weston said...

I agree that meditation (including that involved in yoga) is not restricted to one particular religion or philosophy.

There's a wonderful author called Richard Rohr (Franciscan monk in the US) who writes amazing books about contemplative living in a Christan context (but with a surprisingly eastern approach). You might find him interesting. I thoroughly recommend "Everything Belongs" as a starting point.

I love the pics too! I'm in Australia and we don't see a lot of snow!

BooksPlease said...

Table Talk, I've noticed that's a funny thing about cats and dogs - dogs love the snow, whereas cats are so cautious and almost tip toe in it at first. I'm glad Yoga is a help for you - it is great for keeping the joints moving as well as for concentrating the mind etc.

J Kaye, we don't often have snow in these parts, so it's a novelty. It melted by lunch time, then we had sun, then hail and snow again over night.

Litlove, I would have loved it if the track around the birdfeeder had formed a circle! Wood pigeons don't look too organised to me - creative, maybe.

Ravenousreader, I've seen photos of snow in parts of the US via other blogs - ours is a mere sprinkling in comparison.

Paula, thanks for the info on Richard Rohr - I'll look out for his books. There is also Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine monk who wrote books on Hindu-Christian dialogue.

Paula Weston said...

Thanks for the recommendation on Bede. I'll check him out!

Danielle said...

Snow in April is just wrong! :) At least it doesn't last long. I didn't manage a single page of Les Mis over the weekend, but I've gotten back to it this morning.

tanabata said...

Love that last picture of the tracks in the snow. :)

Emily Barton said...

The snow is beautiful. Happy to hear someone else's take on Eat, Pray, Love. I posted on it sometime back. I went back and forth during the ashram section between thinking, "I could NEVER do that," and "I wonder if I should do that." I enjoyed that book so much more than I thought I would.

LisaMM said...

I'm almost finished with Eat Pray Love (reading it for my book club). There was a part in the India section that I could identify with, when she was talking about having "monkey brain"- constant internal chatter that hindered her attempts at meditation. I haven't tried much meditation but I find my mind wanders easily when I am still, praying, sitting in church, etc. I did a Sunday Salon post this week about a problem I had with EPL in the India section.. the part where she says she is part of God, and actually is God. Hmmm.

LisaMM said...

PS Love the tracks in the snow.

BooksPlease said...

Danielle, I agree about the snow and it's gone now. I didn't get round to reading Les Mis at the weekend either - maybe today?

Tanabata, thank you.

Emily, I've been over to your blog and read your thoughts on EPL. I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would as well. I wasn't too bothered about reading it at first.

Lisamm, my mind wanders about too, meditation does help (and prayer can be meditation as well). I haven't got to that part of the book yet (as I said in my comment on your post) but there's certainly a lot to think about in this book.

Les said...

That's a fantastic picture of the tracks by the feeder (last picture)!

We had a lively discussion about Eat, Pray, Love last night at my f2f book group meeting. Some of the women couldn't identify with the author and others felt she was speaking directly to them. Some love it and others didn't care for it. There were a few, like me, who wound up enjoying it much more than they thought they would. While I have no desire to go to an ashram, I do like the idea of spending some time meditating every day. I'd like to look into more about meditation and Hindu beliefs.