I blog from New Hampshire's seacoast region, with original photos and ruminations reflecting my life here and my native Midwest, all the way to the Pacific Northwest, mainly. More and more, these spring from my newest published novels. Some would say I'm a retired hippie or a veteran journalist, but I'd argue there's much more. I love traditional Greek and New England contradances and singing in the Boston Revels' community choir, for instance. You're quite welcome to place your hand in mine for a dance or add to the harmony!
As yoga spread as a form of physical fitness across America, some of its terms have become widely used by the general population. These arise in Sanskrit, one of three recorded languages that are believed to be close to a proto-Indo-European root of many of today’s languages that stretch across much of Asia and Europe.
Here are ten you may hear.
Namaste. Often translated as “that of God in me greets that of God in you.”
Karma. Action or doing, leading each individual to reap the consequences of his own actions, good and bad.
Mantra. A word or phrase that is sounded repeatedly to aid concentration in meditation.
Om. Also spelled Aum. The greatest of the mantras. Repeated properly, it produces great harmony in the body and the mind.
Chakra. One of seven points of subtle energy threaded along the spine, each one opening like a lotus and unleashing related awareness.
Asana. Sitting or posture. Each of the physical exercises is known as an asana.
Ashram. A hermitage or dwelling place of a teacher and students.
These days, writers are advised to know their audience.
Not what they feel they need to express, mind you, but who they might connect with to sell the story.
It’s always bothered me. Sounds too much like pandering.
Still, with news stories back when I was a newspaper editor, we could begin by the places where they lived. Where they worked or sent their kids to school, too. Voted. Paid their taxes. And then work out from there. You could never go wrong with pictures of dogs or children.
Advertisers think in terms of demographics. They might want something like unmarried females age 22½ and then look for a radio station whose programming hits that market.
But books? It gets trickier.
When it comes to my novels, maybe I can define it this way:
New adults trying to get their act together and want inspiration.
People curious about the hippie era and want to be amused by it.
People who were part of a counterculture and want perspective.
This still isn’t quite not where I’d like to be but maybe coming closer.
In fact, Cassia in my novel What’s Left seems to speak for those I hope she can reach out to.
Let me confess, as an author, this was an impulse purchase for me. Have you ever driven through an old residential neighborhood and noticed an old church just plunked down in the middle of the block?
The one in my novel What’s Left sits next to the family manse. Here’s an early description of the site, one I decided not to include in the final version:
One thing that hadn’t been discussed when he left was the use of the old white church. We bought it just because we could. Thea Nita has joked it was the missing lot on our Monopoly board, and you could agree that she’s right. Yes, it was a great indoor playground for us kids but, as I’ve learned, that hardly justified the expense. Early uses included folk dancing, especially square dances and New England contras – events that included live music and callers, along with instruction. And there were a few weddings. It wasn’t a particularly big church, though – the pews held maybe a hundred people? Well, we promptly put those into storage.
Oh, I’m so glad she stopped talking like this! In the final version, she’s pretty snippy. You get the idea.
I’m ready to up that capacity number somewhat, anyway. Wouldn’t 200 be more fitting?
If you’re like me, music’s an essential part of life. I’m in a community choir that rehearses in the social hall of a church that rents out space for our offices, too – we do a big Christmas production at Harvard every year. I could imagine something similar working out of this space.
Where do you go for live music or dancing? Do you prefer a small club setting? An auditorium? A big arena? Or just somebody’s garage or basement? What kind of neighborhood is it in?
Just look at the topics percolating in Yoga Bootcamp.
Here are ten:
The origins of yoga as a popular American practice.
Yoga as a way of life. It’s much more than a means of physical fitness.
Back-to-the-earth lifestyles. There’s a lot of basics to learn from a hands-on perspective when it comes to gardening, firewood, well water, construction, and the like.
Sharing a household. It’s another way the resident yogis come to know each other deeply. That includes faults and failures despite individuals’ idealized professions. Their goal, of course, is to help each one become a better person. You can’t do this part alone.
Authentic identities. There’s no room for holier-than-thou facades in this maverick laboratory. Swami’s faults are front and center.
Meditation and selfless service. These are emphasized more than the physical exercises, for good reason.
Celibacy and sex. It’s a struggle to stay focused on the spiritual path. Just look at all the males in their bramacharies.
Vegetarian as more than a diet. They also garden and make their own bread. And then there’s the coffee, which other ashrams would ban. Oh, yes, and they fast every Monday. Care to know why?
No recreational drugs, no radio, no TV. The ashram is a place for detoxing from addictions of all kinds.
Counterculture identity. The story is set in the high hippie era, and despite their prohibitions on sex and drugs and the like, the residents are more counterculture than ever in their lives. They’re seen on its cutting edge, in fact. It’s a curious paradox, in its own way, but it is colorful and exciting.