Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Life, New Light

            Happy New Years!! My traveling to Virginia for three weeks to spend  Christmas and New Years with my family was fantastic and flew by quickly; and as I think about my past, I feel like my life has flown by even more swiftly. It's amazing how time passes by.  Today I feel physically astounding and my broken shoulder feels almost back into action the way it was before it was broken. My hair has been growing rapidly and my brain feels alive and magnificent.  Yesterday I had a little session with Ed Sullivan (an amazing qi-gong healer who is also a teacher at my school).  The session consisted of me being a baby laying down in my crib, feeling a new light as if I was just born into the world.  This left me with wonderful shivers as I remembered also the tunnel of light I experienced during the biopsy and how it was similar.  This journey I am on feels like a rebirth out of my mothers womb into the world, creating for me new life, new light and a new beginning. Below is a photo which reminds me of where I came from; my mothers body, belly and womb.  Thank you mother for eating healthfully, practicing yoga and exposing me in your belly to the natural world of sunshine and ocean energy.  I love you; always have and always will. 

            I arrived in Virginia on December 17th, 2013 and two days later I headed to Yogaville, to start my trip off there.  Yogaville is an ashram started and founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda in Virginia in around 1980. The day before my scooter accident I was cleaning my bedroom and suddenly out of my closet fell a book, written by Swami Satchidananda and illustrated by Uma Schreiber (a close family friend and Yogaville woman) called "Enlightening Tales." I opened the book and inside the cover was a note from Swami Satchidananda, reading "Beloved Gabriella, Love and blessings.  Satchidananda."  The amazing part of finding this book is I do not remember ever receiving it or where it came from.
I called my mom to ask her and she said Swami signed it and Uma (a family friend and Yogaville woman) gave it to me when I was a teenager. I got the chills and felt wonderful especially because Swami Satchidananda's physical body is no longer here but I could feel him in spirit.  I put the book next to my bed that afternoon to start reading one of the fairy tales each night before falling asleep.  The very next day SLAM BAM!! I got into my scooter accident and as I mentioned in my earlier posts was rushed to the ER.  I feel gratitude towards Swami Satchidananda for coming with me in spirit in the ambulance to the hospital. What made his presence even more relevant for me was almost one month later, right before heading into the biopsy hallway as I parted ways with my mother and our friend Deepa (who is also a Yogaville woman), Deepa put her hands on the temple of my head and said a prayer. As my eyes were closed I felt Swami's energy, courage and voice being channeled through Deepa's hands and into my soul and body.

           I know I grew up running around Yogaville as a child and resisting it as a teenager and then in my early adulthood right before I headed to college Swami Satchidananda passed away and I know he has always been with me but now at age 30 my body and soul feel his presence more than ever.  Several days before heading back to Virginia for my holiday break, I called my father and asked him if I could go to Yogaville alone for a few days.  He sounded amazed astonished and enthralled that I would finally want such a thing, and he helped me make it happen.  My mother dropped me off and before she left, together we went to the Lotus Shrine for meditation.  When she left I felt all alone and angry and suddenly didn't understand why I wanted to be there all by myself. I felt so lost and afraid. I thought, "Was I the one that decided to come here?? Because I do not remember picking this idea?" This was the first time since any of this had happened that I felt completely alone in a cottage in the woods. The next morning I awoke uplifted and refreshed and excited for the day.  I walked to Shivananda Hall for a meal and sat at the table with two Swamis who looked very familiar.  The woman Swami Vidyananda asked me my name and as soon as I said Gabrielle Olko she responded letting me know she knew my mother and father, Lisa and Paul Olko.  I was amazed.  I told her I was the oldest child in the family and asked her what her first memory of me was.  She responded something along the lines of, "when you were in your mothers belly."  I later asked my mom about her going there when she was pregnant with me and she told me she was at Yogaville for ten days without my dad but with me in her belly.  I asked her if Swamaji saw her belly and she said yes he did and that he placed his hands on her belly and said a hello and a prayer.  Amazing how things that happen while being a fetus can stick  subconsciously throughout a lifetime.

          After my birth I was brought there and given my sanskrit middle name by Swami Satchidananda.  This picture was taken right after me being given the middle name of Sundhari (meaning: beautiful one).  Now at age thirty I feel like I am going through a second rebirth.  The three days at Yogaville were an amazing way to start my holiday.  Today I started reading Enlightening Tales for the first time.  I did have the book with me in the hospital the entire time by my side as if it was Swami sitting next to me and now I have started reading his words from the stories. In his introduction part one of the sentences reads, "Forget everything that you have learned.  Become like a child again, and you will experience God right now." It has been thirty years of my life, but I believe Swami brought me to Yogaville now as an adult to discover a rebirth and rediscovery of myself and my life. Gratitude. Also no coincidence it happened to be the weekend of his 100th year!  My father came the last night of my three days there and it was beautiful to bond with him and it felt like I was being welcomed into the world again by my father in a new light. 
Stanley Paul Olko (Daddy darlin!!) I will love you always and forever like you have always loved me since before I was born and when you first welcomed me into the world.
           The rest of my trip was wonderful and passed by rapidly, I was able to reconnect with many of of my old friends which was amazing.  I have had so many wonderful people come into my life throughout the past thirty years, who I am still connected to now.  My grandmother came down from New Jersey and shared with me amazing family stories from a generation or more before I was born.  Its amazing how her mother (my great grandmother) Angelina, came with only her first born daughter from Italy to the United States on a boat to meet my great grandfather.  Its incredible how one woman who births five daughters can create so many people that are here alive today. It represents for me the massive connectedness of everyone on earth.
Great grandma (Angelina), my mom, me & my grandma (Santina)

 I feel even closer with my mother and father than I can ever remember feeling before, in a whole new sense.  While in Virginia,  I am grateful that I got to spend time with the family that has been with us for as long as I can remember, The McConkeys (Micheal, Jeannie, Gabe, Ian and Juliette)!!  Ian (the middle son) and Jeannie (the mama) sent me a beautiful care package (from their whole family) while I was in and out of the hospital.  The card was a photo taken by Ian and his words written inside were part of what gave me hope and inspiration throughout my hospital stay.

Ian McConkey
          Ian is the middle son who I got to hold in my arms, kiss each others skin, touch our heads together, and be close with in a new way a couple days before I came back to California.  Five years ago Ian was diagnosed with a tumor in his brain as well.  It has been an up and down, twist around, up to the sky and down to the ground journey that has been an inspiration to me as well as others.  I feel bonded to him physically and spiritually in a way beyond what I could've ever imagined and it gives my soul an awakening of the beauty of what DIS*EASE in our lives can bring us and how much EASE was felt when enthused and moved by Ian's journey. I believe everything happens for a reason and everyone on earth goes through suffering and challenges.  Challenges are what brings us the brightest light if we can embrace them and accept the journey and know that we are all one.
           I am thinking that perhaps there will be more to come about my beautiful visit to Virginia in the future of this blog, as every moment is connected to other moments and to other connections. Connected connected connected. And, again may this new year bring you all happiness, beauty and love so bright to fill your hearts and body with health, joy and a new light.  I feel so much gratitude towards all of you for reading about my journey as well as continuously reaching out to me and sending me healing support and love especially over the past few months.  Om Shanti.

Photograph taken by Ian displayed on the cover of the card he sent me.

Ian's beautiful words that sent me hope and courage.  I love you Ian!!

"even the tiniest little thing can teach you a big lesson" - Swami Satchidananda
    Yogaville's Website

1 comment:

  1. Such a beautiful post, Gabrielle. Thank you for sharing your powerful healing journey with us. Much Love!


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