Sunday, February 25, 2007

It was nice to be amongst friendly faces its a bit like a home away from home really

Auroville By Cat 24 February 2007
So it has been a month since my first entry and what a lovely month it was. Fran and I spent the first ten days staying at a hostal in huts right on the beach. It was lovely and cool with nearly no mozzies but painfully far from the centre of Aurovillem, it was a 15 minute uphill cycle for breakfast! We had some visitors for a couple of days, the lovely lady Lowri and the boy Aaandy, it was great to hear their travelling stories first hand especially whilst we still felt so travel fresh and storyless ourselves. They also brought some booze and biffies so we had a couple of fun evenings catcthing up and celebrating Frannies 25th birthday.
They rented bikes too and we had lovely cycling mini adventures, we went to see the Matrimandir ( basically a massive meditation chamber in the centre that looks like a giant gold golf ball) and actually got attacked by a bus full of school girls all shaking our hands in turn and asking us our names and how we were, funny for the first couple but it did get slightly tiresome after 25! Sadly Andy and Low left after a couple of days to continue their relentless itinerary and Fran and I were left to our own devices. I did a workshop on eating healthy as a cure for serious illnesses, which was very interesting and the food was great!
Also I was getting ayurvedic massage every day for about 3 weeks and did a couple of Yoga therapy workshops, I now feel fantastic! We moved to a community where I stayed last time I was here so it was nice to be amongst friendly faces its a bit like a home away from home really. Fran went off to do her voluntary work after about 6 days so I have been knockin about on my own which was nice after a month of nearly constant company. I had a lovely time cycling about on little missions, I have given a few massages and been the Aspiration community baby doctor making aromatherapy remedies curing colds and stuff. I just made one for my friends baby and then I had a couple of requests. It was nice to help out.
Other than that I have been hanging out with my mates and just generally being busy doing not much at all. I finally managed to drag myself away from Aspiration and Auroville. I was nearly kidnapped by Aspiration and a nice Italian man who was doing his best to get me to stay for another month so he could romance me. We hit it off one night talking about the benefits of consuming your own urine!
As you can expect, he became smitten in a couple of days, not really my type but I do like it when he says 'ciao bella' in his lovely accent. I am now making my way to Kerala for a two week yoga retreat, I endured a 6 1/2hr bus journey today with the driver beeping his horn the entire way whilst I nursed a hangover - not ideal! I am about to do the same tomorrow so I will have an early night and be slightly more prepared. Right peeps, missing you all. Think of me getting up at 5:30 every day for the next fortnight! Posted by Cat at 03:46

For a massage course in Auroville, Kaylani is the best teacher

Course finished So today my massage course finished. WOW, it has been great! If any of you are thinking of doing a massage course in Auroville, Kaylani is the best teacher I have met many other that also say so So Now I am a qualified ayurvedig akupressure massage giver And she even told me I was very good So Massage and deeksha so far…what’s next?? I have met some really nice girls at the course and I would like to thank you all for giving your energy and bodies to the course…. It has been a great experience... Course finished By cecilie This entry was posted on Saturday, February 24th, 2007 at 11:01 am and is filed under What´s Up?.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Medicinal Garden in the Community of Pitchandikulam. I am totally blown away, awed and amazed

Auroville 2007 Teal and Imelda’s Adventure of Consciousness « First Crack at a Mission Statement.
As our time here ticks down, there is an increasing sense of urgency to see and experience as much as we possibly can each day. I was concerned at first that this would feel frantic or stressful, however, this has not been the case at all. Instead, our days have been full of wonderful, inspiring, events and interactions. Auroville is composted it seems almost entirely of interesting pockets of visionary ideas, goals, happenings and people. It would be impossible to recount all of the events of a single day here – especially since it will soon be time to go out and being this days adventure—but I would like to share some of the highlights of yesterday here.
One of our first stop offs yesterday was the “Laboratory of Evolution.” This Laboratory is a comprehensive multi-media library filled with books, recordings and videos on a vast range of “new-age” topics, as-well-as a public meeting space for talks and events relating to the conscious evolution of humankind. It is the sort of place that both Teal and I can spend hours browsing though, but with a full day of events and places to this would not be possible today.
We next visited the Tibetan Pavilion to see a new installation of paintings created by two Tibetan refugees living in Northern India. The artwork was stunning visually and very powerful on the spiritual and emotional levels. The artists were there and we spent awhile talking with them both about their work. Teal’s favorite painting and the Artist
For lunch we decided to return to the “Offerings Café” next door to the Tibetan Pavilion in Baharat Nivias. The Offerings Café is a wonderful food venue that strikes a deep cord with both Teal and I and the Aurovillian ideal. There is no set price for food at the Offerings Café. Instead patrons donate what ever amount they feel is justified or that they can afford for their meal. It is a relatively new venture but apparently has been doing very well here. People eating here that can afford to do so, give larger offerings for their food than what the standard price might be, while those who have little or no money make smaller offerings. In short, everyone is happy and fed. The décor and seating accommodations are simple, but clean. The atmosphere in the eating area is fantastic.
Our next destination is the Medicinal Garden in the Community of Pitchandikulam. The medicinal Garden is more than a complex collection of foreign and native flora species. It is the location of an Auroville flora seed bank – including the seeds planted for food in the entire over 100 Auroville micro-community gardens. But, one of its main functions is that as an educational, living, natural history museum of local folk-medicine.
India has an immensely rich folk-medicine history. The staff and community members of Pitchandikulam have been working for over 20 years to document it. Deforestation and erosion is a devastating problem in much of India. Tamil Nadu is no exception to this rule. At the time the medicinal Gardens at Pitchandikulam began many of the over 400 plant species used local folk remedies had been almost disappeared in much of Tamil Nadu. Without the help of the seed and living plant stores of this botanical garden/museum the folk medicine practices and health of the surrounding villages here would be at serious risk of extinction itself. Slate slabs label each medicinal species and in give information in English and Tamil about the traditional medicinal uses of each plant species. The winding pathways are punctuated by larger beautifully painted renderings of the endemic fauna of South India, as well as, other information on the history and composition of the natural bio-region of Tamil Nadu. In short, I am totally blown away, awed and amazed. This entry was posted on Friday, February 23rd, 2007 at 12:26 am and is filed under Uncategorized.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Self-awareness and self-discovery through the body

Journey towards self-discovery SHALINI UMACHANDRAN The Hindu Book Review Tuesday, Feb 20, 2007 Exercises to help children become conscious of their own perceptions and abilities AWARENESS THROUGH THE BODY: Aloka Martel and Joan Sala; Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Educational Research, Auroville-605101.
Rising above the everyday and discovering the interrelatedness of life is a trifle difficult; so handy guides on the subject are always welcome for those who are on such quests. Aloka Martel and Joan Sala's book is an effort to help individuals, especially children and young people, start on their journey towards self-discovery.
The book is based on a curriculum of exercises that the authors developed at schools in Auroville to help children "become conscious of their own perceptions and abilities." They talk of the need for self-awareness and self-discovery, and the means to achieve this higher state of consciousness through concentration and relaxation. The exercises they have developed aim to enhance focus, develop awareness of the different levels of consciousness, refine the senses, and learn how to explore, understand and manage emotions. The ultimate goal is to make children who go through this programme become aware of the higher state of consciousness they can achieve.
Aloka and Joan, who have backgrounds in physical therapy, were requested by teachers at a school in Auroville to give classes to improve the children's posture. In the book, they describe how "after a few classes we realised that, along with work on posture, there were a number of other things that the children needed to know and experience. They needed to acquire more self-awareness, responsibility for themselves and their actions, and an understanding of their limits and capacities."
And so began the developing of a programme, which over the past 14 years has evolved into `Awareness through the body'. They describe their book as merely a guide, and advise teachers to make any changes they see as appropriate and necessary to adapt this to their particular setting.
The authors have drawn extensively from various sources while developing their curriculum. Apart from the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, which they say their programme is based on, they have obviously been influenced by principles of Yoga, Reiki and similar disciplines. Many of the exercises and activities are based on concentration, focussed breathing and tapping into energy flows.
`Witness attitude'
`Awareness through the body' would demand as much from the teacher as from the student - a prerequisite for any teacher trying to set students on a path of self-awareness and self-discovery would be an evolved degree of self-knowledge. While this book does put forth some novel methods, most would probably not work in a regular school setting where teachers, students and resources are stretched to capacity. Most of the exercises they describe for students to develop concentration and awareness require a great deal of time and patience.
The `witness attitude' is at the foundation of all principles on which this is based. It is the developing of an ability to separate the self from the surface existence of feelings, thoughts and emotions, and look at everything that happens as a spectator in order to become aware of the inner self. If that sounds terribly impressive and portentous, there's more to come with the discovery of "subjective sensory landmarks", understanding "planes of the being", and "opening access to the inner self and, later, to the psychic being." With its very solid textbook feel, reading is sometimes a bit exhausting, especially with the repetitive paragraphs about "existing connections between mind, emotions and physical body" and the importance of developing concentration and being in touch with the self.
Aloka and Joan work upon many basic principles, such as being tuned to the mood of the class essential in any classroom. The situations that they describe show that they are obviously very patient and creative teachers, always willing to experiment and go with the flow of their class while maintaining the larger picture of the goals they have set for the children.
More than for the abstract wisdom and exercises that it contains, this book is valuable as it shows that teachers need to be responsive to students, that innovation and creativity are necessary in the classroom, and that with the right kind of support children will discover their capabilities and take, give and expect the right amount of responsibility.