If you are a Northern Californian, you probably have a camp-out (or two) on your summer schedule.
And, it makes sense-we are surrounded by beauty here and our urban surrounding gets more crowded and tough, it’s a nice break to get out for awhile.
On this note, I recently found myself at a camp-out weekend. Luckily for me-it got me out of the city during one of the most crowded weekends- the Fourth of July.
Instead of dealing with suburbanites driving through the unfamiliar streets of SF or Segway riders in Ft Mason-the temptation of wildflowers, lily ponds and fresh air was too hard to resist.
What I learned reaffirmed my faith in the Yamas which are the beginning of the 10 principles for living a yogic lifestyle:
Ahimsa- The idea of non-violence and compassion to all living creatures. Camping usually means you are interacting with more beings than in an urban lifestyle. The idea of respecting life is more in your face as you dip your toes into a pond with fish or have roosters wake you every morning. (My personal test of this was in not killing the bee that stung me at the end.)
Satya-Truthfullness or ‘commitment to the truth’. The idea that clear communication and action form the bedrock of any relationship. Makes sense out in the woods- there is no time for bullshit and small talk when you are navigating campsites and lighting propane grills.
Asteya– Non-stealing. This one is important to me. I lose shit-all the time. Plus, I lend out costumes often-usually everyone in my camp ends up in one of my tutus or wigs-even the guys. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by people who not only wouldn’t even think of taking my things-they actually go to the effort of returning them to me. This past weekend, my rogue lip balm made its way back to me time and time again. But, Asteya also means fostering a sense of abundance and not taking more than we really need. This was freely expressed as people shared food, drink, sunscreen even big hugs and back rubs. Abundance was everywhere.
Brahmacharya– Translated as ‘merging one’s energy with God‘. This addresses the dilemma of how to use one’s sexual energy wisely. In an outdoor setting, with nature all around and people barely dressed due to the hot weather-this energy just flowed.
Aparigraha– (Non-Grasping) Holding onto things and being free are two mutually exclusive states. Our ego loves to cling to the things that it thinks define us (right clothes, right car) and it relies on external validation. And, it also validates the false idea that we are separate and not connected to the Universe.
Lying next to the pool, flowers blooming and fishes nibbling at our toes or walking through the gorgeous gardens with koi ponds and stars overhead-its impossible to remain separate among such beauty.
So, lucky for me, I was given the opportunity to leave the city and found myself coming back reborn.
I think this poem sums it best:
There’ll be that crowd, that barbarous crowd, through all the centuries,
And who can say but some young belle may walk and talk men wild
Who is my beauty’s equal, though that my heart denies,
But not the exact likeness, the simplicity of a child,
And that proud look as though she had gazed into the burning sun,
And all the shapely body no tittle gone astray.
I mourn for that most lonely thing; and yet God’s will be done:
I knew a phoenix in my youth, so let them have their day- William Butler Yeats.
Rise, Phoenix, Rise……