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Lions Roar : July 2011
34 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 L AST WEEKEND I had a spiritual breakthrough while stay- ing with my feverish ten-year-old son at a hotel at the Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport. Well, okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly a breakthrough. Maybe it was more of a little crack in the prison walls through which a ray of moonlight could shine. By prison, of course, I don’t mean our hotel room. We were actually in a very comfortable seventh-floor room with a panoramic view of the runway. That is, un- til Skye threw up all over the rug, at which point we were switched to an identical fourth-floor room with a panoramic view of the parking garage. No, by prison I mean those iron bars of thoughts and beliefs that... well, maybe I should just start this story at the beginning. LATE LAST FALL, I began planning a two-week trip to Guatemala with Skye to study Spanish and live with a Mayan family in a remote mountain village on the shores of Lake Atitlán. I set up our trip through a nonprofit organization run by a young American couple who had made Guatemala their home. The more they told me about what we would experience there, the better it sounded. Our homestay family— Pedro, Gladis, and their three boys—didn’t speak English. We’d learn to make tortillas in Gladis’ wood-fired stove. Skye would accompany their ten-year-old, Selvin, to the village school. Every morning, we’d take Spanish lessons while looking out at the three huge volcanoes that ringed the shimmering waters of what Aldous Huxley called “the most beautiful lake in the world.” What could be better? I booked our flights for Skye’s February school vacation, and began making plans. Before I go any further, there’s something you should know about me: I plan stuff. Already this morning, I’ve planned a novel set in ancient Assam, a dinner of butternut squash and black bean tacos, a Skype conference with The Best-Laid Plans A vomiting child in an airport hotel— it wasn’t the vacation she had in mind. ANNE CUSHMAN on the teachings of a trip gone awry. ANNE CUSHMAN, a yoga and meditation teacher, is the author of the novel Enlightenment for Idiots. PHOTOS BY ANNE CUSHMAN