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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Feb 14, 2011

The Tirtha Greyhound Station

Yesterday - Sunday-  Chris and I woke up to blue sky and sunshine and went for a hike before driving to Spokane to see my mom and dad. Mom says she is mostly "between things" now.  It is like she is waiting at a cosmic Greyhound station for her bus to come. In Sanskrit there's a term - tirtha - which means a crossing over place.  Nursing homes are tirthas.  Hospitals, airports, cremation grounds, delivery rooms - all of them are tirthas or, if you prefer - Greyhound stations of the soul.

Dad spends most of his day, each day, at the Tirtha Greyhound Station keeping Mom company while she waits for her bus.  Mom says she isn't going without him. That doesn't look likely at this point......Dad is looking good - very much here.  Mom, on the other hand, is not concerned with or even very aware of time of the day or day of the week.  Dad is still keeping all the time, date and schedule together for both of them -  even as he spends so much of his time waiting for the bus by Mom's side. 

Today is Monday - an office day for me. Sometimes on my office days I get overwhelmed by the multiplicity of things demanding my attention and find myself in a different sort of tirtha.  I get to a spot that is betwixt and between.  I can't get traction and start feeling "tortured by time" as my friend Denise puts it.  The most successful technique I've found as a remedy for this situation is to use time - the very thing I feel tortured by - as a gift and a tool to lend bones and gravity to my day.

It works like this.
  • I set my timer for - say - 30 minutes. In that 30 minutes I give my entire attention to my e-mail in-box.  
  • The timer rings, I pause, take a breath,  find center - and then set the timer again for maybe 10 minutes. In that 10 minutes I clean up clutter around the office, put books back on the shelf, organize papers, etc. 
  • The timer rings again. I pause - center - decide - and then based on the decision - set the timer for - say - 40 minutes and during that 40 minutes I plan out the details of the Spring retreat. 
And so on.........
The thing is - a tirtha, whether it's a minor one like can happen in my office - or a major one like the one my mom is at - is not well connected to time and space.  It's a place where there's a loosening from the form, structure, rhythm and meter of life.  It's a place I visit in my meditation practice but it is not the place i want to be when I have a lot to accomplish in my office.  I have to be firm and even vigorous in calling my self to come out of the greyhound station of betwixt and between,

OK -- I must add in some more of what I love -  Tantric-Yoga Philosophy.  Here it is. When I need to jimmy myself out of the time-torture-tirtha,  I use the tools of Kali -  the Great Maha Kundalini Shakti - the Venerable Sequencing Goddess of Unimaginable Intelligence - the tools of time, rhythm and meter. It really works well for me. Of course I imagine a time when I'm just no longer interested in doing anything other than waiting for the greyhound bus.  Maybe I'll be so lucky as to have a companion to keep me company - or maybe I'll be so lucky as to be keeping my beloved company.  We'll see.

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