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Tune into Your Fire

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By Dawn King

Fire CeremonyAt the end of June, Erika Indrani Eddy led a weekend workshop at Sunburst that addressed Chinese and Ayurvedic approaches to summer. “Tune In To Your Fire” gave us a yoga practice appropriate for the hotter months of the year, as well as one that tuned our digestive juices and supported the heart.

In Erika’s talk on Chinese medicine and Ayurveda she explained, among other things, how the heart takes over and works harder when other bodily systems are impaired. With props, handouts, and interactive segments, this was an extremely informative and helpful afternoon segment of the workshop.

Saturday evening treated us to an authentic Vedic fire ceremony, or havan, just as one would participate in a puja or homa while in India. Erika is an accomplished student of Niranjananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine. She led chanting at the next day’s Sunday service as well. It was a magical weekend, filled with blessings for body, mind and spirit.

Fire Ceremony 2

Enjoying Silence

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By Valerie King

elephant2AdjAmidst the lush green landscape of Sunburst Sanctuary in late February, about fourteen people gathered for a silent retreat weekend. The elephant image shown is one of the group mandalas that participants enjoyed co-creating together. We also practiced walking and sitting meditations, listening to singing bowls, a grounding yoga session, and mindful eating, There was plenty of free time for rest and solitude

Everyone learned to carefully listen to and be ever so grateful for the sounds of life which are always all around, like the crunching of our footsteps, the singing creek, the croaking frogs, or simply our rhythmic breath. Silence in a group was powerful and soul-nourishing, transforming participants and facilitators alike with deep peace and strength to move forward in life.

What a necessity this kind of experience is, especially in these times on our planet. We hope many more people will be able to experience this healing retreat in times to come!

misty-morning_silent-retreat

The Silent Retreat inspired me to write this poem.

Like a fish who longs for the waters,

As soon as I step into silence

Your Presence

Is so tangible.

Roaring around and through me…thick Air,

Thick with Spirit Divine.

You are always here,

Permeating every particle of my being,

Enfolding me in the Matrix of your Being,

Silence brings it to the fore

Sweet yet utterly powerful Om.

To be still is to Awaken.

Participants commented:

This is my new favorite retreat and one that will feel new and different each time I do it since the silence takes me on a unique journey.
– Michelle

I loved this opportunity for intentional silence. To be around other positive, intentioned energy without having to fill the space with narrative; to be able to work on creating more space within myself while not feeling secluded or alone—what a magical concept!
– Breana

The retreat was well conceived and planned; wonderful activities and the freedom to engage or not.
– Laura

sunrise-over-pond

All Clans Gathering at Sunburst

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by Dawn King
In mid-February, the Native American Flute Circles of California’s south coast gathered at Sunburst Sanctuary for a potluck and jam session. Most often once a year Sunburst hosts this event, since Sunburst Lodge is the perfect meeting place. Participants usually come from San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Everyone brought food to share at a noon sit-down, while catching up on life with old friends and new. The afternoon open mike found a variety of flutes played, and other instruments offered for accompaniment. Three flute-makers displayed their beautiful hand-crafted items in an adjoining room; but everyone had time to perform, switch instruments, and create impromptu duos, trios, etc., just for fun.
Before the event, some participants enjoyed taking a walk in nature, on the labyrinth or one of the gravel roads. It was a beautiful day between the blessed rains, and we all gave thanks. If you are interested in what else Sunburst might have to offer see http://sunburst.org/upcoming/
Flute_2.17_All_Clans

A Kriya Retreat and a New Year Treat!

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By Ischa Beharry

The first evening approached with participant’s rapt anticipation. A sumptuous light dinner, a social circle and welcoming of guests was to follow, culminating in gentle, relaxation yoga. Sunburst’s beautiful lodge was exquisitely decorated for the holidays with soothing warmth radiating from its native stone fireplace. The stage was set; ending 2016 and Screenshot 2017-01-23 16.54.19ushering in 2017 would be the full script. The Light and Renewal Kriya Retreat was about to begin!

After Emily led us in warm introductions, Valerie shared some highlights from the history of Sunburst, starting starting with a little boy’s childhood visions, his years in Paramahansa Yogananda’s ashram at Mt. Washington (Self-Realization Fellowship headquarters, Los Angeles, CA). Years would pass before countless young souls sought Norman Paulsen, to learn about his experience of God, and how they might also know God. Yogananda’s request to Norm became reality in the birth of Sunburst. Valerie also introduced Sunburst’s eightfold path and twelve virtues.

Screenshot 2017-01-23 16.54.47Friday was a day of silence and deep contemplation, a class on Hong Sau technique, yoga, amazing meals and meditations. Saturday was a memorably soul-nourishing experience as everyone gathered for the Kriya Initiation ceremony at Sunburst’s temple. Fresh flowers, fruits, and soul-stirring song set an energetic framework for the sacred Kriya initiation.

One can attend dozens of these initiations, yet feel renewed each time at all levels of one’s being. The final highlight of the day was a sacred seed ceremony at the hugeScreenshot 2017-01-23 16.59.56
lodge fireplace. Gone would be the karmic baggage of 2016, offered into the fire for transmutation! And into the ethers were sown the seeds of individual intentions for 2017—an experience of joy, peace and fulfillment.

But wait, the party part of the evening was about to begin! A sparkling apple cider bar provided drinks for toasting “Happy New Year!” Those who chose to stay past midnight were served Ischa’s secret
recipe chai. What fun it was to stand in a gratitude circle and usher in the New Year, and to send into the ethers planet-wide blessings. January first 2017 dawned to the offering of a light breakfast, Energization Exercises, and an inspiring Sunday service. Time to visit over a generous Sunburst brunch followed, ending a perfect weekend, a perfect retreat, a special treat!

Beginning With New Resolve

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by Dawn King

Indigenous peoples have always celebrated the winter solstice as a time of new beginnings. Each of us is then thought of as being a year older and hopefully wiser. It is a time for people to come together in observance of natural phenomenon, such as at Stonehenge, as well as for sharing food.

img_4686adjSunburst observes this unofficial New Year with ongoing silent meditation, a dinner and observances at our standing stones and labyrinth or lighting of candles.

Winter solstice is the start of the winter season, a time of reflection, a season for nourishing the soul as well as the body. In northern latitudes we see the days grow longer after this solstice, although the earth is cooler until spring’s equinox arrives, three months later.

This year’s Winter solstice is particularly meaningful as we set our intentions for deeper soul connections. To help fulfill this resolve, we will participate in the year-end Kriya Meditation Retreat. Starting 2017 on a spiritual note can only be a blessing to ourselves and our world.

For more information on Sunburst’s Winter Solstice Meditation or Light and Renewal Kriya Retreat, click here.

solstice-winter-labyrinth_57

Fun With Triangles

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By Dawn King

sacred-geometry-slide-showOne of Sunburst’s most popular “playshops” (never a “work” shop) is Craig Hanson’s annual Sacred Geometry event. Each year it offers a new creative and educational activity for our enjoyment.

This fall the theme was Triangles, how Nature uses them as the building blocks of atoms, and snowflakes, flowers, seeds, our physical bodies and more.

After Craig’s slide presentation, each participant constructed a star tetrahedron covered with Craig’s beautiful artwork. Every drawing on
it represented a triangular image found in nature.

Comments ranged from: “This was the most fun project, yet,” to “Wow! I loved this event!” Perhaps you’ll find time to enjoy an upcoming Sunburst activity. We hope so!

screenshot-2016-12-08-08-47-20screenshot-2016-12-08-08-46-49

Permaculture and Virtue – A Perfect Marriage 

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By Ischa Lea

The backbone of our spiritual practice at Sunburst is the application of  the Twelve Virtues in our lives: Charity, Faith, Loyalty, Patience, Honesty, Perseverance, Temperance, Humility, Courage, Equanimity, Continence, and Compassion. This makes for balance, peace, and inner joy — the barometer of all spiritual success. Likewise, the application of these virtues with the Twelve Principles of Permaculture and Permaculture Ethics ensures success in our outward endeavors at Sunburst.

A successful Permaculture project is contingent upon the application of Spiritual Principles, whether we use such terminology or not.

Charity resonates with the Permaculture Ethics of Fair Share and People Care.

Faith and belief in our endeavor creates the motivation for success.

Loyalty among participants ensures steady commitment.

Patience is critical, for even the best designs and objectives in Permaculture are still subject to extremes in environmental conditions.

Honesty is important — As in spiritual practice, we must walk our talk.

Perseverance in meditation and living in virtue ensures spiritual advancement; likewise, perseverance in Permaculture and living in integrity ensures generational rewards.

Temperance in spiritual practice ensures balance; in Permaculture balance ensures that no strand in the Web is broken or weakened.

Humility in spiritual practice ensures that we’re not acting from our lower ego selves; likewise, humility in Permaculture ensures that we are open to suggestions, respectful of other’s opinions, and are able to “hold hands with each other” and work together toward our common goal.

Courage is critical: Spiritual advancement requires courage, patience and perseverance. Likewise, Permaculture cannot survive as a practice without courage, patience and perseverance.

Equanimity in spiritual practice means overlooking obstacles and maintaining even-mindedness in our goal to achieve enlightenment. In Permaculture we are faced with doing the same in order to maintain symbiotic relationships that ensure successful outcomes.

Continence, the practice of self-control, ensures the conservation of vital energies necessary for higher meditational practices. Likewise, self-control is necessary in Permaculture — it ensures that our goals and visions do not exceed our physical capabilities.

Compassion may sound simple; yet, in spiritual practice our ego selves can often propel us into being critical and judgmental rather than compassionate and understanding. Likewise, in Permaculture, without a loving and compassionate relationship with the Earth and each other as we work toward a common goal, there can be no successful rewards.

In the end, Permaculture at Sunburst is Spiritual Practice!

Permaculture and Virtue

Ischa during Sunburst’s “Permaculture As Spiritual Practice” workshop

A Spectacular Heavenly Event

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By Ischa Lea

Saturday, August 13, 2016 was finally there, charged with anticipation as we prepared for yet another evening of great fun and excitement at Sunburst. Decorating the Lodge, preparing snacks, laying tarp upon the sacred Wheel of Life hill for eager campers created a high-energy environment perfect for those who would stay awake all night looking at the heavens. Celebrations for our customary annual “Star Party” had begun. The Perseid Meteor Shower was to make its grand entrance!

Sunburst-star-party-2016_03Moksha Badarayan, our renowned Sunburst science teacher, held her large classroom full of eager students, both mature and young, spellbound as she presented a three-part slide show on astronomy that included the latest discoveries and scientific information that kept us riveted in our mental journey through outer space, traversing the Milky Way! How amazing to hear the many theories put forth by science as they try to define and categorize the very subtle differences of what constitutes “life” in outer space – mind-blowing and intriguing propositions that elicited much teacher/audience participation, with the tiny “grown ups” asking the most interesting questions, resulting in the most interesting answers! Needless to say, Moksha’s acumen and preparedness placed both her and the kids among the “stars” that night!

Sunburst-star-party-2016_02And the evening was just starting! On the patio outside lay mounted three gigantic telescopes, manned by an amazing group of seasoned astronomers, including Sunburst’s own Steve Anderson. Not only were we all in awe peering at the rings of Saturn, the moons of several planets, watching the space station whiz by, but an occasional meteorite would streak by too, further building the excitement of the evening as  some made “goop” as a science experiment, drank hot homemade chai, snacked, and continued their periodic visits to the telescopes.

The grand finale marked a short pilgrimage to our Wheel of Life hill that held a 360-degree view and upon which some of would spend all night scanning the heavens, “ooing and aweing” as the heavens presented the ultimate light show – incredible meteors with their comet-like trails streaking across the land! Oh what a night to remember – warm, starlit, fun-filled and joyful. Looking up I could only sum it up in a few words to Moksha camping beside me: “Look what beauty our Heavenly parents have created for our enjoyment.”

Thank you, Moksha for making “Star Party 2016” a memorable one!

Moksha holding her classroom spellbound.

Moksha holding her classroom spellbound.

3-D Big Dipper

3-D Big Dipper

Exploring Soul Growth Through Mandala Painting

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By Ischa Lea

What an exciting day it was at Sunburst Sanctuary on Saturday, May 28th as Reverend Ron Gibbons guided all participants through a meditative journey of soul exploration through mandala painting. Signifying the wholeness of creation, the word mandala is derived from Tibetan Sanskrit. Mandala translates “to be in possession of,” or “to know oneself.”
IMG_3559_MandalaWorkshop-crop-768x437A well-seasoned teacher on this topic, Reverend Gibbons touched on some of the historical aspects of mandalas reflected in both Eastern and Western renderings. He said:

Representing the order beneath the change and apparent chaos of our lives, it is the invisible thread that ties our existence into a living net, or the spokes of our turning wheel. It is then the relationship between the individual and his life situation, the seeing of the relations between things, and the vividness of life as it is.

The mandala is universal, with one constant, the principle of the center. The center is the beginning and origin of all forms and processes, including the extension of form into time. Nature paints for us the most magnificent mandalas in flowers, snowflakes, galaxies, the rings of a tree, even the eye, all emanating from the grand center of creation, the mind of God.
The speaker’s words and the visual slide show inspired participants to enter their “inner garden” during a guided meditation. Some amazing revelations emerged, and were later shared—unique experiences coming from a Higher Self. A personal mandala rendering by each participant expressed this significance, no matter one’s artistic talents.

IMG_3564_Mandala-copy-768x512A mystical, magical time, it was as evidenced by the healing that occurred for one person, the overall clarity that most experienced as it pertained to their present life situations, and the overall excitement and joy that pervaded the room.

One cannot but feel the childlike anticipation of intrigue that further inspirations might hold. We continue to meditate and embellish our individual works of art, or create new ones. A joyful, healing and meditative journey of exploration still unfolding, one must reflect in awe the power of the mandala. And, as Reverend Gibbons cited:

2016_05_28_mandala-workshop_03-rev-300x200The center of the mandala is not only the external constant of space, but also of time. The center of time is now, living totally in the now of one’s existence is to unfold like a mandala.

 

Growing Up!

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By Ischa Lea

Screenshot-2016-03-15-21.29.33-300x194So often I listen to beautiful songs sung, hear beautiful words read, feel uplifted in my soul, yet watch the cosmic play unfold in mockery to those songs, those words, those pleasant platitudes.

Even as a child I wondered about this, having my talks with God in secret: “Lord, why is the world so bad—even the same people who say nice things and read the good books to us?” Being a child, I would innocently blurt out what I saw, then be reprimanded then for speaking my mind. By my elders, I was branded “disrespectful” for noting that some speakers we heard were proud, parroting other’s insights. Their audiences were appeased, yet all week so few were nice.

My grandfather stood always on my side. He was a man of great integrity and honesty, and many would seek his counsel in the neighborhood. I was naughty, for I would occasionally whisper in his ear, “Nana, that’s not a nice person.”

Grandfather would smile and say to me, “My child, they don’t know any better.” Of course I would protest, “But Nana, they’re big; if they don’t know, then why do they play boss?” In local jargon that meant “Why on earth did they behave as if they knew!”

The shackles of a child’s body were unbearable and confusing, were it not for the fun part, playing games—and not having to worry about cooking or laundry, and all the things adults worry about. “What else is there?” I thought. When would I ever be able to speak my mind without being told to “hush?”

Well, being a grown up became an eye opener. I wasn’t being told to hush anymore; it was worse. I had to know when and how to speak my mind without hurting someone, or when to simply be quiet even though it hurt to do so!

Yes, decades have passed. The same movie of life is still being shown over and over again; however, I’ve learned that I’m not here to change anyone, only to be an instrument of change in the world by being honest in front of my Maker. It’s only to my Divine Parents that I have to prove myself, even though they do not ask for it. It is only before them that I can truly bare my soul and say, “Lord, I know I’m not perfect in this human body, but help me please to think and act in such a way toward all my brothers and sisters, and all of nature, so that my thoughts and actions may be pleasing to thee, Lord. Please, guide me by Thy divine hand.”

 

Screenshot-2016-03-15-21.39.06-224x300Thy Divine Hand

In thought, word and deed O Lord I pray
Make me an instrument for Thy loving hand
In virtue, dignity and commitment to stand,
Ever guided in all things by Thy divine hand

Each day Lord, make me an instrument of love,
Let not my ego above good judgment command
In heart-centered action toward all I ask
Give me strength to be guided by Thy divine hand

Seeking not to be controlled, nor to control any
Let me, in free spirit undertake all tasks at hand
In sincerity, humility, and integrity let me stand
Give me courage to be guided by Thy divine hand

I know not what’s best but know enough though
That when my heart’s open, Thy energy to it can flow
Sculpting my day, my intentions, dreams, and plans
That all will be well when guided by Thy divine hand

All are Thy creatures, Thy children, Thy creation dear
How can I in honesty one above another show care?
Let me not for a single moment, on this sacred land
Stray from Thy light, Thy love, from Thy divine hand