I’ve been asked to write something about DIMA and the theme of ‘celebration’. I don’t know that this exactly relates to celebration in the mainstream sense of the word, but I certainly feel that a ‘celebration of life’ has been the essence of my whole experience here.
When I arrived at DIMA, I was in a space of feeling depleted, pretty exhausted from traveling for so long, and physically unwell with a flu. I had been taking a lot of responsibilities on, which were now taking their toll. Living a nomadic life is amazing and freeing, but there is always that inner craving for a sense of home – not so much a permanent base – but more that feeling of being right at home, where you can just relax and open… that was what I really needed.
The evening I got here, I was told that we had a huge Thanksgiving dinner the next day. I was met by a beautiful site of a kitchen full of activity – one where a delicious dish of some divine food was whirling together on each surface, countertop and stove. I was given a tour of this giant mansion of a space, shown a room, given dinner and got to know some of the people here. The next day was going to be busy… we had chores to do and things to prepare for the party, and I remember thinking to myself that I would have to wait to rest.
Having had a very cold night and coughing throughout, I didn’t get much sleep and decided to sleep in… when I woke up, I was expecting to be put right to work to help set up for the day ahead. Instead, someone handed me breakfast and I was told I could take it easy for the morning. I took the time to reflect on the day and my journey here… I looked around and soaked in some of the energy this space was offering.
Travelling to new places every month or so, I have noticed that with each move, it takes me a while to feel settled in and a part of the community or environment. I often find myself being quite reserved and keeping to myself the first few days. I try to suss out people and the space, the expectations, and the rhythm of how things flow. I guess it is the ego’s protection mechanism to be cautious when approaching the unfamiliar, and then slowly open once comfortable… I notice this is often the process I go through with each new place I come to.
As we got closer to the Thanksgiving dinner, I realized that the walls around my heart – kept up for me to approach a new environment cautiously – started to melt away… this began with the experience of sharing in the tasks of the day – preparing food together, cleaning up together, decorating the rooms together, even dressing up for the 1920’s theme together. Then, guests arrived and brought more things to share… wine, chocolates, cakes.. yum. The precise moment that I became aware of just how open my heart felt was when we were putting the finishing touches on the thanksgiving meal… I was stunned by the absolute abundance of food – not only the sheer quantity – but also how much time, thought, effort and most of all LOVE had gone into preparing it.
We served the dishes, held hands, offered a prayer and ate. We talked, we drank wine, we danced… we laughed a lot. We ate divine desserts and then sang songs late into the night. The party was incredible and far beyond any expectations I had – the simultaneous decadence of food and glamour of our outfits, coupled with the deeply touching and heart-warming energies. I felt – for the first time in my life – what the celebration of Thanks-giving is about… I felt the essence of giving thanks – of being in a state of gratitude for the abundance of love around me. It dawned on me that giving is so powerful… so potent an energy, and that this event is a celebration of how much we can give and are given.
As the days go by, I observe how radically different DIMA is in comparison to other places I have visited. It is truly a community experience and this is everyone’s home. I have never lived in a community setting or ashram before, so this has been very new to me… sharing everything, doing things together because that makes each thing better than doing it on your own, and just giving for the love that it brings forth within the giver. I realized that no matter how battered one arrives here, the love and giving spirit of this place is just so generously nourishing, that anyone’s heart cracks open in an instant. The essence of this space is about celebrating the spirit of sharing, it is about unconditional love and trust, it is about partnership and collaboration, and it is about giving for the joy of giving.
In the short time I have been here, DIMA has opened my heart in such a beautiful and transformative way… it has taught me not to approach with caution, not to wait for someone else’s presence to feel comfortable or safe, not to wait to give until something is given to me. Rather, DIMA has taught me to approach with an open heart, to share the love within, to be the first to give, to be the first to trust, to be the first to share. It has shown me that each task in a day, when done with others, becomes a celebration.
I am amazed every day with how much nourishment surrounds me… whether it is the sun shining on the terrace while we do yoga, the smell of delicious food wafting from the kitchen, the sound of laughter and sisters sharing, the feeling of cozying up by the fireplace. With each day here, I feel the fatigue of separation and hardness melting away. I feel new space being created within me that is being filled with gratitude for the abundant nourishment that is shared with me. I feel like I can relax, I can open, and that that wish for home has finally been gifted to me.
I am so grateful for being led here and being able to immerse in this magical love. Thank you to the beautiful women who have created this place, Charu and Kanika; and thank you DIMA.