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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.

alex-fiore Alexandra Fiore has volunteered at Karmê Chöling every summer since 2014. She lives in Brookfield, Connecticut.


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