Day 3 – Nothing has to Change; We just Turn on Awareness!
Today is Sunday. In recognition of the rare opportunity to spend a Sunday morning in Assisi, Mirka asked us to have a free morning to enjoy the town and the religious ceremonies as we like.
Some of us went out to explore nearby regions, and some of us stayed in town to soak up the places in more detail then we did during our first visit. There is so much depth and detail in the churches that one cannot really get a full appreciation for them in just one visit. I have a feeling I will be revisiting places many times over if I am blessed enough to keep returning to Assisi.
Though I expected to be visiting churches, I ended up going with a few friends to the local Yoganada center in the hills. I had not planned to go out of town for the day, but just as I was walking out of breakfast wondering what I would be doing for the morning, someone turned to me and said, seemingly out of the blue, “Are you coming too?”, as if we had been in conversation about it. I responded with, “Where are we going? I was wondering what I would be doing today.” It was a lovely place, and we sat in on part of their ceremony of light. Afterwards, I had the chance to walk barefoot on the cool earth in the forest, which is always very grounding for me.
Amy, from Israel, was one of many who stayed in town for the morning. She took the time to explore the details of St. Francis Basilica because she had been wanting to know more about it since she first came to Assisi with Mirka two years ago.
She tells me, “Being a non religious Jew, the pull I have toward this basilica may seem unusual. Since I saw it 2 years ago I wanted to be able to spend some time there, and finally his Sunday, I was able to do so , armed with a little book that provides some insight into the intent of the artists who decorated this magnificent basilica.
After spending about 2 hours in the basilica, reading and looking at the art I am at the same starting point, I just need more time there, as the more you understand, the more you realize, there is so much more than beautiful colors, and beautiful paintings. The thought the artists put in shaping the viewer experience is incredible. And all this is beyond the pure aesthetic pleasure of seeing the wonderful lapis lazuli ceiling …”
Our friends Russ and Sandra had a very unique experience on Sunday morning as they were joined, by the blessings of Padre Gianmaria, in Holy matrimony. They went to his church that morning to receive his blessing. This was a very private moment that was not attended by the group here, but we were all overjoyed to see them later in the day glowing and looking very connected.
By the afternoon, we were all ready to gather again, even the happy couple. Mirka led a powerful 3 hour heart opening practice for us! It was strong and required a lot of focus. It felt like she was integrating us, physically and spiritually, into the message of love shared by Padre Gianmaria the previous day. If we didn’t feel it before then, we were sure feeling it after about two hours!
For me, personally, this long, intensive practice was a very big experience. The journey leading up to this trip was challenging, and part of these challenges resulted in my restraining from Asana practice for months. This practice was the most and strongest Asana and breath work I had done in six months. With the safety and guidance of my teacher, the experience was a blessing and my body loved it. This is the power of a great teacher!