Riding to Omega was one of my favorite things about the week- I always love when I get my butt out of bed at some ridiculous hour to ride. It validates why I ride- that the love for being out there is greater (though sometimes only by the slimmest of margins) than the love for being asleep or being cozy in bed.
The ride there was fantastic- Randy and I met up in downtown Suffern at 6:05. It was supposed to be 6:00 but it was in the 50s and I could not bear to acquire speed on the mostly-downhill route- it was f-f-freezing.
We rode Rt. 202 to what I thought was a route Shawn had given me, and in unusual practice for me, I had learned beforehand so I'd know exactly where I was going and what to expect. Randy wanted to take a different route, I agreed. His route had 20% grade hills. Wow. Those were like rock-your-bike-forward-try-not-to-fall-over-backwards steep.
He left me at 18 miles, I rode to Cold Spring to meet up with Shawn and Debbie who rode me the rest of the way there, it was stunning. Long, undulating country roads. I think I stopped at exactly 3 lights the whole 73 miles there.
So let's see, highlights from the week. Gray joined "Little Forest People" and got to learn about gnome-magic, build a fort, and catch frogs. At Omega, you take classes- even the kids. So everyone has breakfast together and then you separate for class from 9-12 then 2:30-5. I took Yoga. I was going to take the african drumming, but I realized that drumming pulls me out of myself (the course was called transcendent drumming, after all). I needed to really be grounded and brought back to me, so I stayed with my original registration, Shakti Yoga. What a great choice, especially since I later learned the drum class did all the same rhythms I learned last time I took it.
Yoga was intense. I had only ever done a class here or there. Now I was doing cobras and downward facing dogs for many hours. I was twisting, stretching, sweating, breathing, binding, and balancing. I loved it though it's so unbelievably hard, and I"m not one to try this only a little- I jumped right in, bending and folding myself, doing external rotations of every part of my anatomy. I especially liked using the yoga straps- these are just a standard strap with a buckle at the end- you can use it to help bind yourself in a position, or you can actually physically tie yourself into a position, which we did.
We did breathing, we did aruveydic medicine lecture, we did inversion (ok, I didn't invert), and we did lots and lots of movement. I used blocks, and blankets and muscles galore.
Every night there is a show or event- one night I took Gray to see a performance of world dance- he loved that. My favorite night though was the drum performance. All the students in the drum class perform with the drum master, Steve, and the rest of us get to dance. Ah dancing, I do love you so! The auditorium was warm to begin with, especially with the lights on and a hundred other people. As soon as the drums started, a bunch of us started dancing. First slightly inhibited, after all most people are sitting and watching. Then more intensely. As the music carried to us, we carried ourselves in dance- between latin dance and african dance.
I ended up in the front of the auditorium doing all themes of african dance with five women who were stunningly sweaty like me. Every fiber of each of our garments were soaked through with sweat, such was the intensity of our dancing. We hugged each other, we copied each other, we inspired each other. We marveled at the fact that we all looked like we just got out of the shower. It was stupendous really. One woman, obviously a trained african dancer sought me out to tell me I was great and I think that was the best moment of the week for me. She was amazing!
I spent a lot of time in deep reflection. I meditated at the sanctuary (generously feeding the mosquitoes), I had a Buddhist ceremony called a puja. I thought very deeply about my life and its direction, about my regrets. I wrote many things and then burned them in this butter fire, resolving to make things better. Different. At one point in the ceremony, you call a specific Deity to come, then you burn this fire and your regrets. Signs abounded. Joni Mitchell was being piped into the tennis courts (a class called the Dance of Tennis)- it was so special because I listen to Joni Mitchell when I'm really thinking, and there she was being blasted into the forest at exactly the right time. Then, out of nowhere, a man on a bicycle rode by. In the forest. Bikes are not permitted on campus, but here was this man, riding right past us. The interpretation for that was all over the place- my sister and my aunt were stupefied about its importance or significance.
Another highlight was David Wilcox. He is a folk singer- he's called the Music Doctor. For several hours a day he would sit in his music room- you just enter and sit down. He asks, "What's in your heart today" and whatever you answer, you get an impromptu, wonderfully moving song. So, I spoke a little about myself and then promptly started to cry even as he was tuning his guitar. There's rarely a dry eye in the room, half a dozen boxes of tissues are testimony to that. He hit the nail on the head in every way, everyone in the room cried with me. What a complete blessing. I am painting a really pained experience here, but it's not necessarily so. You could go into David's room and feel happy and cry. You cry for other people, you cry for things that you don't even understand. The tissue box to listener ratio is one-to-one. It's that moving.
I got to hike into the woods with Gray to see the fort he built, I did not get to read in the Ram Dass library, nothing spoke to me to be there this time. I enjoyed my Thai massage and getting a henna tattoo on my hand. I especially loved watching Gray play with other children and stepping outside his usually-shy tendencies. I loved pushing our beds together at night so we could snuggle-sleep. I did not get to canoe or kayak, but that's ok, the lake is pretty much always the same, so I didn't miss much. Oh and the hula-hoops! Someone had made about 30 hula hoops and put them around campus- they used about a 12 food section of PVC pipe (I actually measured it!) and connected it together then covered the whole thing with colorful electrical tape. They were heavy and glorious and I hula hooped for a hour at a time. I loved other adults coming to me for hula hoop lessons because they had not tried since their youth. For about 30 minutes one day I managed to play catch with Gray while never stopping the hula hoop. That was fun.
It was such a special trip to be surrounded by my mother, always there for me. My aunt, my sister, my nieces, my son. I loved it all and feel like I learned a great deal about myself and each other.
Coming back from Omega, we stopped in Woodstock, NY to do some shopping and visit an amazing Buddhist temple with this massive Buddha. I swear the temple smelled like pot, but I'm sure it was just incense...right?
Pics are on Flickr, only some. I haven't finished uploading them all.