But, when the periods between houses were of longer duration, free accommodation was offered to me by my friends Bud on Moss St in Victoria, and Jim and Jennifer in Esquimalt; I am ever grateful to them for their kindness.
I am also grateful to Swami Radha for allowing me to stay in whatever room was free at Shambhala House Victoria (now called Radha House in honour of Swami Radha) on such occasions.
In '78 I was a temporary resident at Yasodhara Ashram. When it came time for me to leave, my big concern was how do I bring what I have learned into my life in the world. How do I integrate it into a real world model? Swami Radha knew that this was a common challenge of spiritual seekers and she opened these houses with the intention that they enable people to "stay in touch with their ideals while living in the world". Shambhala House offered (and I took part in) classes in dreamwork, kundalini yoga, satsang and other aspects of yogic self-study. Spiritual practices weren't relegated solely to the support and isolation of an ashram, as their purpose was enrich one's daily life, daily practice was essential and these programs provided continuity.
It was at this house that I became acquainted with the use of mantra outside of its identification as a formal practice during satsang and meditation. Swami Padmananda and other residents (who came and went, including Swami Radha) would go about the house humming or singing the repetitive refrains of their favourite chants while they washed dishes, wrote, cooked and went about their daily chores. When they weren't chanting (or Swami Radha wasn't present), Swami Radha's beautifully delicate, vibrato emanated from tape decks playing Hari Om, Om Namah Sivaya and others; the house was filled with monotonic sound.
Being of a different generation, I can't truly say that I appreciated the power and value of chanting day in and day out at that time. On the rare occasions when the house was my own, my exuberant nature couldn't be contained and I danced through the house and sang with enthusiastic abandon to the tunes of John Denver, the Blues Brothers, Boz Skaggs, Billie Holliday, Eric Carmen, Janis Joplin, Kenny Rankin, jazz, rock and the blues.
|© Nance Thacker 1982|
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(Shiva is considered a destroyer of obstacles)