Feel absolutely awful getting up. Too much sugar, too little water. Very tempted to crawl back into bed. However time and again I manage to get myself to meditate in these circumstances, and some spark inside the heart convinces the body to get out there and run one more time. In fact, I feel quite good as I put on my running shoes and jog down to the starting line of the two mile race.
The race begins and I find myself slowly overtaking people on the back stretch - however there is this voice telling me to take it easy that I am unconsciously in sway to, and I only realise this when I reach the top of the hill for the one-mile mark and Utpal calls out "6:02..." - the gauntlet has been laid down to break twelve minutes which some part deep inside me instantly responds to. This is usually the time when I lose concentration and my speed dips, I'm doing my best not to let that happen, up the hills I have the image of a four wheel drive vehicle powering its way up, perhaps not the most spiritual of visualisations but it gets me up...and I cannot believe it when I got within eyesight of the clock at the finish line to see it in the eleven-thirty range, I get home in 11:44, a split improvement of almost 20 seconds. I have done much better times before, but this race was still somehow a significant achievement - inwardly I had faced down a lot of the resistance I usually succumb to, and I feel that the groundwork has been laid for some good performances when I really start training over the summer.
No time to waste - after Sri Chinmoy comes and gives prayers and prasad we immediately head to practice. The English-French and Australia-NZ practices overlap with each other so there's a bit of shuttling to and fro - the English-French performance takes priority though for the simple reason that it's on tonight. Then I have a meeting with the rest of the Vasudeva Service crew - the guys and girls responsible for keeping websites such as SriChinmoyCentre.org and SriChinmoyRaces.org in good running order. We use the Plone content management framework* to manage all the contributions to these websites by people all over the world. We've had to make a few changes to suit our own needs, and we've rolled up all these changes into a very nice package to offer to anyone else managing Plone websites who might benefit. Of course some of us (like myself) still need to be told all the changes and how to use them... This goes on much longer than the 30 minutes I promised everyone from and as a result I end up missing practice.
As we head into meditation we are met with a truly joyful sight...
Last year Sri Chinmoy's students built a merry-go-round (or carousel I believe some people call them) which Sri Chinmoy could power via a foot pedal. Sri Chinmoy watches whilst a team of workers put the finishing touches - with sculpted lions, deer, horses and accompanied by a "merry-go-round" rendition of some of his most well-loved songs. First Sri Chinmoy starts with eight of the youngest children, and then went on to grownups who were children at heart... in total 52 people were spun around on the carousel, giving great joy to all those present and watching.
Again I have to leave, this time to get a costume for tomorrow (but what does he need a costume for? I hear you ask. All will be revealed...). Later, Colm tells me that Sri Chinmoy was inviting people up to tell jokes - as far as my teacher is concerned, the main thing always is that we have joy; one cannot make progress if one isn't happy, plain and simple. Colm went up, and his joke went like this:
This old couple - Johnny and Mary let's call them - were just getting ready to go to bed. The light goes off when all of a sudden they hear a knock on the door and a voice coming from outside the house - "Could you give me a push?". Johnny gets up, about to give him dog's abuse for waking him up, when Mary says "Do you not remember when we were holidaying in Wexford and the car broke down? If someone didn't stop to give us a push we'd probably still be there. Go on down and give him a push". "All right, All right!" says Johnny with a face on him that would turn milk sour. He grumbles his way down the stairs, shoves the front door open - no-one there. This is close to the final straw for Johnny. "Where are ya?" he roars.
"I'm over here on the swings!"
I make it back for the last English-French practice before we go on - we're rushing some parts of the arrangement a bit, we've got to be careful. Then I went to Aspiration-Ground for a little while just to meditate and make sure I was in the right consciousness for performing. It was worth all the effort. As I've mentioned, the motif of this performance was oneness between our respective nations, and you could really feel that in our performance - nothing adds strength and certainty to a performance as when all the participants are singing with one voice.
There were lots of acts tonight, very few lasting longer than five minutes. Sri Chinmoy has asked that people be finished within the allotted time and give everyone else a chance to perform - for many their performance time is the highlight of their trip. The highlights for me were all the Germans singing together replete with instruments - over a hundred people in all. This was followed by Alap, a noted Swiss musician who has recorded many CDs of music - his music has a very ethereal quality to it. We also had a performance by the girls' improvisational group - Sri Chinmoy invites them do improvisations with electric and bass guitars, drums, saxophones, you name it. It's a far cry from the soulful melodies the girls are usually singing, but it just goes to show that Sri Chinmoy is not shy of using innovative ways to instill positive qualities in people - in this case dynamism. Tonight's performance certainly had dynamism in abundant measure, I enjoyed it very much.