Karmê Chöling. What is there to say, really?
I have been a summer volunteer at KCL for the past three summers. Living and practicing for short periods at KCL has been of huge benefit to my post-graduate life. I have met so many people during my time at Karme Chöling. They come from so many different backgrounds and geographical locations. Now, they are part of who I am.
The staff at KCL has been my second family for three years. They’re a significant part of why I return each summer to volunteer and deepen my practice. Karmê Chöling has so much to offer; the land speaks the truth.
The first time I drove down Patneaude Lane, I had a sense of home that was so profound it made me curious. How could I feel this way when I have never been here before?
That first summer at KCL was remarkable. I met and connected with so many people, and gave myself the opportunity to establish a meditation practice. I had just graduated from college and needed a place to go to help me transition into being in the “real world.” A lot came up for me that summer, including in-depth discussions and realizations about my religious affiliation. Ever since I was introduced to the vision of Shambhala, I knew it would be my path.
After two years of contemplating that realization, I came back to KCL in January 2016 and took refuge. After I did it I thought, “What the hell am I doing? People will judge me. How can I relate with people who just don’t get it?”
But, this past summer, when I came back for a third session of volunteering, I really took my seat on the cushion. I realized that it doesn’t matter what people think of me, it only matters what I think of me. Those people who might judge me deserve my kindness, rather than my aggression. Once I stopped entertaining those self doubts, things started to magically happen all around me. I was noticing things that I hadn’t before. It was truly amazing.
A week before the end of my volunteer session, I fractured my foot. I’ve had to re-learn how to walk the path, and how to slow down a tremendous amount. The hardest thing has been asking for help. I realized how hard that is for most people. But, I don’t think I would be where I am today if I hadn’t experienced the love and compassion from everyone at KCL, whether it was the staff or the participants asking if they could do anything for me.
Karmê Chöling is a place for anyone and everyone to go to. Even if it’s only a day visit. The doors are always open, and that’s what makes Karmê Chöling my favorite place to be.
Alexandra Fiore has volunteered at Karmê Chöling every summer since 2014. She lives in Brookfield, Connecticut.
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