Over the last five years I have lived on Alba Road, one of the steepest roads in Santa Cruz County. Four miles long and averaging an eleven percent gradient, Alba rises up out of the town of Ben Lomond, California (10 miles east of Davenport and 10 miles south of Santa Cruz).
Several years ago, I attended a yoga class with Sharre Young (Kamala Devi) a teacher in the nearby town of Felton. After class, we shared a little about the life journey. I mentioned a chronic illness that I had been dealing with and told her that Alba Road was my home space. A bright smile lit up her face and she said:
“That area has great Vastu. It is a perfect place for you to be during your recovery phase.”
“What is Vastu?” I asked.
“Vastu is similar to Feng Shui and living in an area of good Vastu is very healing. It is a positive vibration area that promotes harmony with nature.” I never asked Sharre about why Alba had some kind of special Vastu because I already intuitively knew it to be true.
Then, a few days ago, I read an excellent article in the local Good Times weekly (Hippiedom Revisited–about the Summer of Love in 1967 by Christina Waters). While reading the article, I came across a quote taken from Inside a Hippie Commune by Holly Harmon:
“There was alot of spirituality up and down Alba Road, an a hip scene in this vortex-Ben Lomond, La Honda and Santa Cruz.” This book, along with another, Hip Santa Cruz by Ralph Abraham may well have additional specifics regarding Alba but I have not read them yet. I do know that a new yoga studio: Ease Mountain Yoga and Wellness, is situated at the base of Alba road. I have taken a few classes lead by the owner, Juko Holiday, and she is a true yogini who understands the deeper aspects of yoga (that it is not simply about the physical postures and how well you perform them). I highly recommend her studio.
In spiritual lore and through direct experience many have felt the healing vibrations of a yogi’s cave, the sage’s ashram or other sacred sites. These spaces all have a common thread: a palpable presence that radiates peace.
My small room sits in the middle of a 30-acre meadow (attached to the main house with private entrance). Redwood clusters border all sides of the land, with a sprinkling of oak, madrone and pine trees mixed in. The meadow is visited by hawk, bobcat, quail and deer families and numerous jays, chicadees and other small birds.
Now I can be grateful for all the sincere spiritual aspirants, the true hippies for their earnestness and sincerity, the way they too have enriched and cultivated the beauty and power of this space. For these true hippies, to be hip meant that their primary interest was on living in harmony with nature and knowing who they really are. To be hip, was and is: to be in the Current of Reality. This makes me a Hippy for sure.
I sit by my back door, looking out from and into the meadow, through the built-in window panes, basking in the bliss of being (direct experience of God’s presence) several hours each day. Sometimes, my eyes are closed, other times not, sitting throughout in the natural state of meditation. I might chant to the Divine Mother or repeat the mantra: Om Namo Bhagavate Vashudevaya (invoking the Divine Dweller in every human heart), or read and imbibe a few spiritual pointers from my favorite Masters, like Anandamayi Ma, Nisargadatta Maharaj or Ramana Maharhshi:
“The quest after Truth and to be truthful is man’s duty. Do your utmost to remain anchored in Truth and to spend time in the contemplation of the Lord in a quiet, secluded place as long as possible.”
“Don’t consider yourself to be a body while acting in this world. Identify yourself as Consciousness, which dwells in the body. If you take yourself as the body, it means you have forgotten your true Self.”
“When meditation is well established, it cannot be given up. It will go on automatically whether engaged in work, play or enjoyment. It will persist in sleep, too. Meditation becomes so deep-rooted that it will be natural to one.”
Spiritual practice (sadhana) is my primary duty. I have not worked a normal 9-5 worldly job for two decades. (Not that I have not tried to get more work– many, many times). Though I have done a fair amount of massage therapy and end of life caregiving during that time, my current worldly task entails a once a week caregiving job and a once a month massage client (and helping my daughter with a 4 month old and 7 year old–Thanks ozone therapy:). The rest of the my job-task remains: to realize more deeply who and what I really am, to abide in and as the True Self. Then, naturally, the peace-filled cultivation within spreads to others–as we are all one.
As I sit or take care of activities of daily living, if the mind is active, there is simply watching, witnessing, until it dissipates and dissolves back into the Source. Then, what IS always already present, pure beingness and bliss, exude forth from within without effort. All else falls away of its own accord, like crumbs shaken off my sleeve.