While it’s true that occasional snowstorms afford us cozy reprieves at home, long stretches of just plain old harsh, wintry weather can be a challenge to the optimistic spirit. Being surrounded by swaying, skeletal trees against colorless skies can adversely affect not only one’s view of the outer landscape, but the inner one, as well. When the color we need to nourish our souls has vanished from the environment, the opportunity to journey inward through spiritual exploration can be a true life saver.Last weekend was cold and gray in the aftermath of the recent big snow. After dealing with a few minor nuisances that cropped up, like an unexpected flat tire on the side of an icy road that nearly caused my poor son frost-bitten fingers, I was feeling a bit peevish by the time I turned my attention to the column. Checking on all the usual websites for anything new happening in our parts, I was coming up blank. It can’t always be helped, but sometimes I get tired of sounding like a broken record, reiterating the same things. Please, please, please send me some news … anything!!!
Needing a break, I went over to the Springs General Store, and was so happy when a new flyer pinned on the front porch caught my eye. “Dharma Dialogues” with Catherine Ingram announced the flyer, are offered at a studio in Springs located at 1090 Springs Fireplace Road on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 2:30 p.m. through the rest of the winter. I was intrigued, and immediately investigated dharma and Ms. Ingram online when I returned home, refreshed from my brief outing, and feeling newly inspired.
Dharma, a central theme to Hinduism, is most simply defined as “the principle or law that orders the universe.” As explained in “A Hindu Primer” by Shukavak N. Dasa the word ‘dharma’ comes from the Sanskrit root “dhri,” meaning to uphold or sustain. “From this perspective, the best way to think of dharma is to say ‘that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the nation, the community, the family, and ultimately even the universe.’” The Hindus believe that every individual has a particular dharma according to their station or role in life that shifts and changes with age. This philosophy even extends to include the components of all types of matter, like fire or water.
Catherine Ingram has an accomplished and diverse background in this intriguing field. An internationally acclaimed teacher of dharma since 1992, she is the president of Living Dharma, a non-profit organization that was founded in 1995. A writer of consciousness and activism, she’s published more than a hundred articles and authored several books including “In the Footsteps of Ghandi: Conversations with Spiritual/Social Activists” and “Passionate Presence: Seven Qualities of Awakened Awareness.”
Her career has centered on helping to organize institutions dedicated to meditation and self-inquiry. According to its website, these Dharma Dialogues are “public events that focus on directing awareness toward greater well-being and leading an ethical and happy life.” I don’t know about you, but that’s all I needed to hear to want to check it out for myself! After speaking to my sister-in-law, Roisin, who enthused about Ms. Ingram and these events, I am excited to go as soon as I have an available Sunday afternoon. For more details, please visit www.dialogueswithcatherine.com. The cost is $15, and I learned from the website that they also look for volunteers at these seminars and at special retreats.
Another hugely worthwhile event is the “Ocean Matters” reception to benefit the Marine Education Foundation this Saturday, February 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ashawagh Hall. On display is the stunning underwater photography of Stephanie Whiston, a member of the Explorer’s Club. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon offers the opportunity to hear an informative presentation on vital issues connected with our oceans and marine life. Private discussions are also available. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (917) 721-5283. This show runs through February 7 with gallery hours daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I’m excited about this one, and hope you are, too. With the oceans comprising about 75 percent of our planet, it’s critical that we all become better informed!
In conclusion, while wintertime in our hamlet can appear to be predictable or even dull from time to time, we actually have an astonishingly dynamic community of people all year-round whose gifts are happily accessible to all who seek. Happy week all!