Saturday, June 26, 2010

Looking for place in Ashland to live, share, and grow

My name is Daniel Kra. I am 27 years old, originally from New Jersey, though I spent most of my Adult life in Israel, where I got into Permaculture, Sustainable living, natural building etc. That's why I came out here to the west coast, cause there's so much of that going on here. After work trading for a few months in California, then another four months at the Mountain Homestead community in Coquille, Oregon, I came to Ashland because i heard so many great things, all true. I've been living here for the last 8 months and though my first winter was kind of tough and scary, being in a new place and all, I'm excited to stay in Ashland and make more connections and help do wonderful things. I've been doing yard work, landscaping, babysitting and a few other odd jobs. I'm hoping to continue with the landscaping work next year with an emphasis on edibles/medicinals/useful plants as well as making and selling herbal beers and meads and a few other new money making projects.

I would like to find a place to live in or outside of Ashland beginning around October 1st after a visit to Israel to see my family and friends. I am looking for a place with community oriented people, possibly sharing food budget and making meals together(I'm a budding Freegan), making art and music together, doing sustainable oriented projects, especially food related, biker friendly too. There should be plenty of space on the property for gardens, chickens, rabbits(not that i would get chickens and rabbits right away, but it's a goal), mushroom patches, cob oven.. I want to build a bunch of raised beds and other beds for growing annuals and perennials. If it was in town that would be great so I could bike around rather than drive everywhere. It shouldn't feel cramped because I am a bit claustrophobic and like large rooms and spaces, especially for doing yoga or even dancing, outside space for a fire pit, hammock etc. Ideally the individual rent should be as low as possible only as high as $400 including utilities, If there was a work trade option that would be great too. Cigarette(outside) and 420 friendly. Pot lucks and small gatherings are great, huge college type parties not so much. I might be interested to find like minded people and rent a whole house as opposed to just moving in to an existing house with existing housemates. Either way is good. I should also mention that I intend to live in this next home for at least a whole year, probably more if it's great and we make it great.

If you know of any places that sound like what I described or like minded people who would be interested in creating a new space together, I would love to hear from you. Even if you just think that I'm a neat guy that you'd like to get to know. I could never have too many friends.

Many blessing,

Daniel Kra
(I'm on facebook too)

How I experienced four days of a ten day Vipassana meditation course

Well first off, it was hard. But I'm getting ahead of myself. At the recommendation of my friend Hadas, I signed up for a ten day Vipassana course. She thought ti might do me a lot of good. It's ten days of silence, ten days of meditation, ten hours a day. The meditation is guided by audio tapes of S.N. Goenka, who teaches the meditation method by video discourse at the end of each day. No speaking( except to ask the assistant teacher a question or if you need something), no intoxicants, no reading, no music, no sexual activity. It's meditating, resting, eating(delicious vegetarian food) and sleeping.

The course took place outside of the City of Rogue River here in Southern oregon. At a private residence in the woods, very beautiful. Now I've never meditated before. I mean I've never sat down and consciously meditated. I know I've meditated on things before, just thinking, or praying. But never meditated to increase my level of awareness of my mind and body, which is part of what Vipassana is. So it was hard. First off, physically. if a week ago I had sat down and meditated for an hour, similarly to what i do sometimes in yoga, just sitting indian style, following my breathing, I would have had a better idea of what i was getting myself into. It hurt to stay in one position for one to two hours at a time. I tried a number of different positions while there, finally on the third day moving to the back of the meditation hall so i could sit up against the wall, which helped. So the first three days were hard physically including the fact that I slept poorly the whole time, nodding off over and over while meditating.

Obviously, it was mentally hard. It's all about focusing the mind on one thing, at first your breathing, then specific areas of your body. Focusing on these, being aware of them and aware of the sensations you feel connected to them. And when I was doing it really focused, it was a wonderful feeling of being at Peace and being very aware. Though most of the time, I was out of focus distracted by being physically uncomfortable or in pain, or just by the distracting nature of my mind. I must have had every song in my ipod stuck in my head, popping up all the time. I also had a tough time not thinking about the future, my plans, things i need to do. It's not easy to live in the present and only the present.

It was on the fourth day that things really changed. The first three days were just preperation for the actual vipassana meditation. The actual vipassana started with the focusing on our entire bodies, section at a time. Focus on the head, then the neck, then the shoulders etc. Being aware of whatever sensations pop up along the way. Anything. Warmth, tightness, vibration, pressure, anything. That wasn't so much of problem. It was the fact that we were discouraged from changing positions at all, as well as discouraged from leaving the meditation hall until the end of the one or two hour long session. Sure i could move to change positions or leave the room if I wanted, though slowly and quietly so as to interrupt my own medition and the meditions of others as little as possible. But I was already physically suffering and this just compounded it. The final straw for me was that i realized I was in pain physically and feeling very claustrophobic. There were walking trails but very short that looped back to the meditation hall. I couldn't really walk far to be alone. Couldn't make eye contact with the other participants, had to behave like I was alone there. Couldn't play guitar, sing. Couldn't scream.

So I left. They were really nice about it even though when you start you vow that you will stay the whole ten days. I'm not embarrased or ashamed. Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded here on the west coast, particularly in ashland, by amatuer yogis and practitioners of every meditation technique or tai chi or hear circles or ancestral healings. I've been a Jew all my life, in fact I always will be. Point is, my Jewish upbringing taught me to pray,to read words from books. But nobody taught me how to feel, how to think, how to just be. So I sometimes feel like I have a lot of work to do to get where I want to be. I learned a lot in those four days. I learned a few simple techniques to help me focus and sharpen my mind to be aware of different aspects of myself. I can't tell you what I would have learned the next six days cause I wasn't there. But maybe someday I will.

I'm back home in Ashland. Back to work, back to friends, my housemates, music, my guitar, the farmer's market, the park, bonfires and full moons. Life.

Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm back baby!

"Back from where?", you ask. My last blog post was in December, so I have a lot to explain for. First off, This was a very hard winter for me emotionally and psychologically. Winter in a new place can be very tough, especially for someone like me who really suffers from Seasonal Effective Disorder. Anywho, I'll just say that i was really depressed all Winter, which was also a late winter here in Southern Oregon. I moved out of the place I was at in Talent, even though the property has so much potential. The main reason is that I didn't fit with the other renters. One in particular was very OCD and bossy, and she made me feel like I was a bad guest living in her home rather than a housemate. Leaving, I felt like a failure.

No worries. Though it was sad to leave such a beautiful property, I found three amazing University students living in a huge house on the edge of Ashland who were renting out the basement apartment. So thats where I've been since New Years. I've been working doing yard work for people I found through Craigslist and that's paid the bills(Yay me!). I also recently started a work trade with a clinical herbalist, helping her in her Apothecary and gardens in exchange for consultation and guidance in living healthy. Then there's my work with Bach Thor, a older man here in Ashland who wild harvests stinging nettles for restaurants, farmers markets, and other customers.

I got back a few days ago from the Village Building Convergence, an annual ten day event in Portland with projects all over the city to improve neighborhoods, like using natural building styles to make public space useful like cob benches, saunas, as well as gardening projects all over the city. There are workshops of all kinds related to Sustainable Living, as well as lectures and live music at night. I saw some old friends there and made new ones as well. Portland is an awesome city and I wanted to stay longer, especially to participate in the worlds largest naked bike ride next Saturday. Though I came back this week because I am participating in a ten day Vipassana silent meditation course starting this Wednesday.

Today after doing Yoga with one of my housemates, I went to Lithia Park in town to play guitar. I made 15 bucks in one hour, plus a ticket to the Feast of Bill, a dinner in the park to kick off the start of the summer season at Shakespeare Festival here in Ashland. Barbecue chicken and Bagpipes, who could ask for more. Then on the the way home, I found a garage sale, where I bought a 2 person dome tent and an fm tranmitter for my ipod, for 5 bucks. pretty sweet. So all in all, I'm one happy camper.