Sri Chinmoy Centre

Like a Lizard Drinking

Lately, as my father would say, I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking, and it had probably better be a chameleon, considering the variety of circumstances I’ve found myself in.

Lately, as my father would say, I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking, and it had probably better be a chameleon, considering the variety of circumstances I’ve found myself in. One of life’s many paradoxes is that having lots of things to talk about is usually inversely correlated to having the time to talk about them. I like to be busy, but I’m also glad to find myself in one of those weekends with enough space for listening to Bach and Tavener. Reading poems slowly. Dusting properly. Gazing out on the glowing embers of evening sky, the last trains rumbling home, with only the occasional bat flickering past in any kind of hurry.

It all began in France. Two weekends a year the British Sri Chinmoy Centres meet with the French on their home turf, and twice a year they come to us. June was Montpellier. There’s only one flight a week from anywhere near me, which seemed a handy excuse to spend a few days with Hita Hirons, and to catch up with her latest painting adventures. Hita’s mural of the Indian goddess Mahalakshmi graces the walls of Tripti Kulai, a vegetarian restaurant run by students of Sri Chinmoy. Photos cannot do the goddess justice – certainly no photos of mine – but here is a close-up of one exquisite foot, a garland of flowers and the beads of her sari trailing in water. Sublime.

The trip brought back happy memories of similar weekends. That intense silvery light of the South of France, mountains covered in rough sweet-smelling greenery and yellow blooms. Fruit that tastes so perfect I eat it for fun, and not just because it’s good for me. Crème de Marrons for breakfast. The clang of bells on the necks of goats as they trot home for milking. Fresh medallions of chèvre in greaseproof paper. Most of all it’s always the easy company, the laughs and chats, the songs and the rich silences alike.

Then it was the start of a meditation course in York. Similar classes are offered free of charge in cities all over the world, introducing meditation techniques and spiritual inspiration, based on the teachings of Sri Chinmoy. I love these opportunities to meet local people interested in meditation – some of whom are trying it for the first time, and others who have practised for a while.

It was also birthday week, which brought back many sweet memories of birthdays past. The highlight of my own was the first night of the classes, but I looked forward equally to the birthday of a friend, who traveled all the way by train from London for a cream tea in York. It was a happy and decadent day spent mostly chatting in Betty’s Tea Rooms, closely followed by chatting in the other branch of Betty’s Tea Rooms.

Halfway through the course it was time for a very new experience: marshalling at a Self-Transcendence Triathlon in Portishead. The good thing about wearing a marshal bib is that it helps keep out the rain – no such luck for the participants, but I suppose they already planned to get wet. The slightly unnerving aspect of wearing a marshal bib is that the participants assume far higher levels of knowledge in the wearer than she might possess. The frowns of concentration paid off though, and all the swim laps, in all 4 lanes and all 4 waves, with all the right colour swim caps, were recorded by our team, then swiftly transferred from their soggy pieces of paper to the relative safety of a computer. Once my own official jobs were done, it was a chance for some impromptu cheering and handing out of water. Despite the almost wintry conditions, it was a joyous and uplifting event. Not being of a sporty nature, I’m surprised how much I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Where will life’s adventure lead next…

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