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Lions Roar : July 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN jULy 2009 95 HIGH QUALITY HANDMADE MALAS 626-264-7843 KUAN YIN INSPIRED DESIGNS THE MARKLAND cabot trail cape breton island NOVA SCOTIA where nature...happens fine food & accommodation near Gampo Abbey www.marklandresort.com 1-800-872-6084 attention and, coming through the door- way of the mind, they eventually realize they have a body that is going to be either an obstacle or a support. Both directions point to their opposite.” As for her personal path of discov- ery, bringing together her metaphysical readings and yoga as a physical disci- pline seemed like an easier combination than sitting down and facing her own mind. “While doing asana,” she says, “I was readying myself for meditation.” When she felt the time was right, Powers did a retreat with students of the vipas- sana meditation teacher Goenka. In the same way she’d been surprised by how difficult yoga was, Powers now had to come to grips with how difficult long meditation sessions were. Indeed, she found this first Goenka-style retreat one of the most challenging things she’d ever done, not because her mind was distracted—she’d expected that—but because the practice was so physically ar- duous. She realized that her yoga practice had been oriented around feeling com- fortable. She’d find a pose and, as soon as it became uncomfortable, she’d move to the next. To sit for hours without trying to improve the posture through move- ment or visualization was a whole differ- ent matter. And it was life-changing. Powers did three more Goenka-style retreats; she did vipassana retreats with Spirit Rock teachers, and she went to Bur- ma to do a retreat there. Eventually, she delved into Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. “My meditation practice continually helps me discover greater potential for seeing and listening in a way that’s more aligned with deeper truths, rather than my conditioning,” Powers says. “That see- ing and listening informs every moment, so my yoga practice is much richer.” WhIlE PoWERS WAS developing her practice, she and her husband were also raising their daughter, Imani Jade, who is now sixteen. “I wasn’t willing to spend too much time away from her,” Powers says. “Ty and I were home-schooling her, so we would relieve each other for short periods to go off on retreat.” one of the reasons the couple decided on home schooling was because, when Imani Jade was five, they started traveling in order to give yoga workshops—something they continue doing today throughout the United States, Asia, and Europe. Until Imani Jade was fifteen, the family went everywhere together. In hotel rooms, trains, planes, and waiting rooms, they’d read and discuss. Then Imani Jade would write a paper. To allow her to develop her so- cial skills, the family tried to spend one sea- son a year at home in California. Imani Jade would take classes at junior college (starting at age twelve) or she’d be in a play, or take dance classes. With her education tailored to her pace and interests, Imani Jade whizzed through her elementary and secondary edu- cation, and is currently studying history and dance at a college in the New York area. “Ty and I are all alone again, like we were before we had her,” Powers says, her voice carrying a hint of empty-nest syndrome. The couple has been together for twenty- seven years. They frequently co-teach yoga retreats, and Ty Powers is their manager. “I’m curious,” I say, “about those juicy conversations you two have about mean- ing. What’s Ty’s take?” “It’s constantly evolving,” Powers tells me. “Yet I’d say what’s meaningful to him is constantly broadening his capacity for inclusiveness. It’s having an uncompro- mising love and compassion for family— no matter how they are—and extending that love to the human family.” “And what about you?” I ask. “What do you think makes life meaningful?” “one of the reasons we’ve been together so long is that we’re aligned. For me, what’s meaningful is interconnectedness. Where do I feel split, whether it’s within me, in my psyche, or between me and an event or a person? What’s meaningful is the pain and the suffering of that, and seeing the healing. “What’s meaningful,” Powers says, “is discovering a capacity for renewed fresh- ness and continual insight.” ♦ Sarah Powers continued from page 53 For resources and further reading on Yoga and Buddhism, go to www.shambhalasun.com.