26 August, 2007


I have been offline for about a week now, by choice. I really felt like I was going to explode! I know I have talked about how much this year's group is really connected and there have been no conflicts, unlike last year...Well, even though everything is just hunky dorey, I suddenly felt the need for air. To get away from everyone! I have been living breathing my fellow students since July 9th and I really need some alone time just to think, read, type, cry, or whatever comes to my agitated mind.

On 21 Aug. we started our 5th and final Modular Period of this term and there have been so many thoughts going through my head about everything pertaining to my life. I had been drug through one ‘challenge’ after another and although I really do enjoy it all, after awhile I just needed to be alone. SO when starting this final period, I was overjoyed when I remembered that it was titled “Personal Peace of Mind for Universal Peace” and would be given by Swami Veda Bharati and Stoma Parker. We would be taught the fine art of meditation and I was so looking forward to it, BUT I was not prepared for what was to come! The moment I entered the room and saw Swami Veda up on a table in his meditation position, I was enthralled. I was equally impressed with Stoma, who is from the US, but has been guided by Swami Veda for about 30 years or more.

Stoma and Tejaswini (an assistant of Swami Veda) started everyday by guiding us through some relaxation exercises and then Swami Veda instructed us on proper breathing and posture in order to facilitate meditation. We had class 6 hours a day (with a break for lunch) for 4 days straight and it was the most powerful thing I have ever done. I felt so disappointed when it was over. I have had so many thoughts (some of which I have posted) throughout the year and the relaxation sessions along with the lectures from Swami Veda put so many things into perspective. I also received some encouraging news from the Peace Studies director regarding my thesis and I am confident that I will have it finished (thus GRADUATING!!) in January, 2008. I really feel so blessed to have had this and many opportunities and I am learning not to question “privilege” so much and to accept that the path that I am on is the right one and everything is happening for a reason; so that I can fulfill my purpose in this life before I move on to another.

Of course since I am not CONTROLLING my life anymore, I make tentative plans knowing that they may (and probably will) change at any time. My current plan is to go on to Native Spirit Camp in Sept. after this program and stay there until January and then after graduation, I want to head to India to visit Swami Veda’s Center there. I may have a few leads on NGO’s jobs in India as well, but I am not even going to think about that yet…it’s still 5 months away. I’m taking things 1 day at a time. And tomorrow starts my first 3 days off since…who knows when AND my roommate will be gone so I am sooooo looking forward to some much needed “Melinda Time”.

Swami Veda Bharati

Swami Veda’s website - http://www.bindu.org/ and http://swamiveda.org/index.htm

14 August, 2007

time, time, I got no time.........

YIKES. I have had class non stop since the 27th of July, on the weekends too. Last Saturday and Sunday we were all saying it was Tuesday and Wednesday as not to think about having class on the weekend. The next day off is on Aug. 20th! yep, almost a full month of non-stop studies...How peaceful is that?? Everything has been going well other than the lack of time off.

I have been running again and one of the students from Nepal is guiding those who want to in yoga in the mornings. The exercise is a great break since I feel like all I am doing lately is eating and studying. We finally took a night off of studying and danced like fools till 2 in the morning! It felt really good to release so much energy.

Boogie Nights! Group Shot!

12 August, 2007


When I arrived at Native Spirit Camp, I immediately became calm and like a Zombie. I was so relaxed that if someone would have pushed me over, I would have just fallen onto the ground and laid there. This was in stark contrast to the previous 5 days working with the Austrian Army. “In the Army” I was an overactive machine who couldn’t calm down. I barked orders (in a peaceful way of course) and strangely enough people listened… Because of my initial leadership/Commander position (which was given to me), the image that I actually knew what in the hell was going on was instilled in many of my fellow student's minds. Little did they know that I often felt completely helpless when confronted with a problem. At one point I went to Major Rott and said that I either need to scream at the top of my lungs or run as fast as I can away from this place because of the stress and pressure of the ‘challenges’ bestowed upon me.

Major Rott took me aside and showed me some breathing/visual exercises that I could to do calm down, which I thought worked wonders, but about 3 hours later Major Otis came up to me voicing his concerns that he thought I was stressed out. At the time of his confrontation, I was “on security” sitting in an army jeep along with another student drinking coffee and hot chocolate (it was freezing and raining). I told him that I actually felt really relaxed at that time. He gave me a look that said “you are full of shit”. I of course know that look well because it frequently finds itself forming upon my own face… We talked awhile longer and he said that he has been observing me and he does not understand why I haven’t collapsed because of my high activity level.

He then asked me what I do to relax; hmmm...he stumped me. What do I do to relax? I thought of the beach in Spain…but then I never actually sat still on the beach, what with the sea beaconing me in or Mother Nature calling me to pick up stupid people’s trash they have carelessly tossed aside. TV? Nope, don’t have one. Books? YES, books, but now I read to learn so brainless relaxing novels are out of the question; my thesis takes priority. A long hot bath? I’ve only had a shower stall for the past year. I then tried to convince him that I was indeed relaxed at that moment, really!… But then when the jeep door opened suddenly, I jumped, spilling my coffee in my lap; I received ‘the look’ from the Major along with the question “So you’re relaxed, huh?” I didn’t reply, but it did make me think. Can I relax? How? What makes me relax?

After the Army challenges, we went directly to Native Spirit Camp; you know the one who choose me as their “Cover Girl”…During the 7 days at the camp the feeling of relaxation was the focus on my mind. I tried to become as relaxed as I could; which would be an easier task here as there would be no “bombings; gunfire; mines; people with their arms blown off; frantic voices saying “Commander, what do we do”. I did not even 'organize' my things in the teepee; instead I just had piles of clothes on the wood floor. (honestly!) Unlike last year, if someone was not ‘doing their chores’ I really didn’t care. I let others take the ‘mother role’, although Andi contradicts me saying that I still took over more than I should have. I walked around, I meditated, I sat by the river, I relaxed.

The third to the last day, I started wondering if I could come back to this place after the program. It's REALLY expensive to do workshops here (usually lasting only a week at a time), so I knew I couldn't afford to do that. I decided to talk to Peter the owner/director and see if I could stay there and work for room/board/food and no money exchange. As the day grew nearer I started getting cold feet. I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to get something for nothing. Finally the last day (literally the last 2 hours before we left), I pulled Peter aside and said I had a question to ask him. Now his English is not the greatest so I had to make sure I was really clear about my proposition. I had been rehearsing it over and over in my head so I just blurted out, “Peter, do you think I could come back in Sept. after the program ends and do work here without pay.” I then started rambling on about how I can clean the teepee’s; mend the fences; cut firewood for the winter; blah blah blah…he stopped me and looked me straight in the eye and said that he felt like the place needed me. He said he had already had the same feeling that I would be a great asset there and also that I did not need to “sell myself” to him, as he is very much aware of my capabilities.

I suddenly wanted to cry! I felt so overwhelmed with joy! Peter then gave me one of his huge bear hugs and said “the Schalklhof welcomes you”. So….this will be my new home after the program ends on Sept. 7th. How long will I stay? 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years…Only I will know when it is time to leave...I’ll feel it and then move on.