Trekking in the Himalayas

Ive spent the last 12 days trekking into the Langtang National Park, north east of Kathmandu on the Tibetan border and then a pilgrimage to Gosiakunda Lake where Shiva’s trident struck the mountains and created a cascade of lakes. Climbing up the mountain to an altitude of 4380 metres to visit the lake was a physical and mental feat. Memories of chanting to myself just one breath, one step at a time, Om Namah Shivaya! In the mountains everything is forgotten it’s a place in its own time.

Will be heading back to Oz in a few days. Looking forward to seeing you all again

Saraswati almost finished!

Saraswati almost finished!

The Saraswati painting in almost completed. Heading into the 19th day of painting tomorrow. It has been an amazing journey through the spectrum of creativity. From excitement to doubt, to joy, to inadequacy, to tranquility, to hesitation, to rightness, to frustration, to love, to anxiety, to transition, to creation!!! I am so pleased that I have taken time out to do this journey and know that the creation of this Paubha will remind me of my vision for the coming years.

The paper for the painting was made by hand using cotton, shell powder, buffalo resin, stone, water and hard work from Lok’s apprentices. The paints are minerals like lapis lazuli (blue) malachite (green), cinnabar (red), harital (yellow), shell (white) and gold. These powdered minerals are mixed with water and resin and applied in layers, some many times.

I have been intrigued to find I like the fine detailed work of motifs and lining. My challenges are in learning the art of shadowing. The Newari style is in the motifs and colours. Under the guidance and help of Lok Chitrakar I have been able to create something unique yet with meaningful symbols shared by the ancient culture of Nepal.

In a few days I will head to the mountains of Langtang and begin an eight day track through the valley to mountains 3850 meters high.

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Family generosity

Family generosity

During the festive season of Darshain I was welcomed into a family home to experience the wonderful hospitality of Kathmandu. Families in Nepal are cross generational with Grandma’s next door, son’s of brother with sister-in-law and new born baby (only 7 days in this photo). In the family home there is mother and father, sisters and brothers. Soon one of the sisters will marry and live in her in laws home and one of the sisters may never marry as she has a good career and wants to study more. When the brothers marry their wives will live with them. Like India there is a caste system and the marriages are arranged in the traditional Hindu families of the Kathmandu Valley. Food is an important way of celebrating family and I have found the people of Kathmandu to be so generous.

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Patan, Kathmandu

Patan, Kathmandu

I have arrived at Patan, Kathmandu where I will stay for one month and study at Simrik Atelier with teacher Lok Chitrakar. I have rented an apartment that overlooks a Buddhist Stupa and is next to a pond with a Krishna Temple. Every morning the bells ring as the morning temple rounds begin. The offerings of praise, light, incense, rice and colour is done with such dedication and peacefulness. I watch with fascination as the meaningfulness of morning prayer seeps into my bones. There is a roof top where you can see across the streets. Morning sun prayer with yoga!

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Chandrashilla peak above Tungnath temple

Chandrashilla peak above Tungnath temple

Next place was Chopta to walk to Chandrashilla Peak above the Tungnath Temple. This is a pilgrimage to the highest Shiva Shrine in the world (3680 metres). Meet lots of pilgrims along the way. Feeling so blessed. People ask me am I travelling alone as if it is a rare thing for a woman to travel into these isolated areas by herself. I feel so safe and looked after. When I look into someone’s eyes I can see who to trust. Have meet wonderful people! Ended up in North of Dharmasala for the last couple of days at a peaceful Ashram.

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Sari Village, Uttrakhand

Sari Village, Uttrakhand

A new adventure begins. I have arrived today at Sari Village, 6554 feet after a 9 hour drive from Rishikesh through lots of landslide debris. I think we did around 30km an hour! Bit hairy at times and I did wonder was it worth it! Arriving at dusk I discovered that this is a very small village with orchids of fruit and farming. Women carrying heavy loads of hay from the fields below is testimony to their strength. The cows are fed well here and unlike other places are tethered to homes. Sari is base camp for Deloris Tal, a short walk up hill to a height of 7800 feet. There is an Lake at the top where you can camp amongst the Red flowered Rhododendron and Oak trees. This has been my vision - to find a lake to camp by for awhile. For this lake I will have two nights!

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Rishikesh, Uttrakhand, India.

Rishikesh, Uttrakhand, India.

Rishikesh is a city in India’s northern state of Uttarakhand, in the Himalayan foothills beside the Ganges River. The river is considered holy, and the city is renowned as a center for studying yoga and meditation. Temples and ashrams (centers for spiritual studies) line the eastern bank around Swarg Ashram, a traffic-free, alcohol-free and vegetarian enclave upstream from Rishikesh town.

What to say about Rishikesh. It’s raining a lot and there are many tourists Indian and Israelis alike. The Ganga river is very high and strong enough to sweep away anything in its path. There are many Ashrams and yoga classes, cooking classes, Ayurvedic massage and treatments. I was overwhelmed Yesterday. Feel a little more settled today, did a pranayama and yoga class this morning and have found a groove. Couple of classes of yoga a day plus eating with the students of yoga tt. Feels like Ubud! Gotta get out of here because the comfort zone is up way to high so easy to get lulled into the Rishikesh vibe.

Moved out of tourist strip to Parmanth Niketan Ashram, check out the Siva statue! Again began to feel very at home with the Ashram routine so I have decided not to stay and to go for an adventure into Nature.

I thought I would be going further up river to visit Gangatori Temple and maybe walk to the start of the Ganges. But it has rained so much that I have been advised not go due to landslides and bad roads. So change of plans! India does test us.

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Goddess Green Tara - the sacred art form of Paubha

Goddess Green Tara - the sacred art form of Paubha

Green Tara is the female Buddha in Vajrayana,  a meditation deity worshipped to develop inner qualities and to understand buddhist teachings such as Karyna (compassion), metta (loving kindness) and shunyata (emptiness).

My month of painting at Simrik Atelier in old Kathmandu, Patan, Nepal will be to create, embody and complete a Pauhba of Green Tara/Saraswati.  In Nepal both Goddesses are often represented as one. The sacred art form of Paubha is a visual interpretation of the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies as practiced in the Vajrayana tradition. Ritualistic symbolism is used to depict gods and goddesses in their different postures, according to ancient text.  Once a viewer becomes aware of the symbolism each Paubha painting can be read like a text, aiding the practitioner in their meditation practice.

A Paubha is always painted for a spiritual reason and the painting process embraces painters spiritual contemplation and guidance from a learned master.  I will be under the guidance of Lok Chitrakar.

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Yab-yum - the inspiration

Yab-yum - the inspiration

This is my version of the Yab Yum inspired by Nepalese artist, Lok Chitrakar.  My version has Buddha and his consort inside the Shiva  Lingum.  In Nov 2017 I was inspired to paint and I finished this painting within a week and was then inspired to try another.  Green Tara was my next painting and whilst rough it took very little time and I found myself obsessed.  I knew I wanted to paint uninterrupted and that’s when I wrote to Lok Chitrakar in Feb 2018 and asked if I could visit his studio in Patan, Nepal in Oct 2018.  Several months later to my surprise he wrote back saying yes.  If I was prepared to paint 4-5 hours a day I would be welcome to complete a Pauhba using mineral paint on a cloth canvas over a month.  And so began the preparation.

The sacred art form of Paubha is a visual interpretation of the Buddhist and Hindu philosophies as practiced in the Vajrayana tradition. Ritualistic symbolism is used to depict gods and goddesses in their different postures, according to ancient text.  Once a viewer becomes aware of the symbolism each Paubha painting can be read like a text, aiding the practitioner in their meditation practice.

Simrik Atelier is an art school in Patan, Kathmandu, for painting Pauhbas (Newari painting). Simrik Atelier was founded by Paubha artist, Lok Chitrakar.  Lok Chitrakar is a self-taught Paubha artist that has been referred to as, “the Maker and Saver of Paubha.” Over the last 40 years, Lok Chitrakar has worked to keep Paubha art current.  


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Paubha Painting

Paubha Painting

A year ago I knew that I needed to take some time off to explore and refresh.  Long service leave well overdue as I have been running Yogababy full time since 2003.  I dreamed of 6 months leave, then practically it came down to 2 months.  

My life, like your yours, is about dreaming the future, using our creative imaginations to go beyond our everyday. One morning in 2017 I awoke to the Image of the Yab-yum. The Yab-yum is a common symbol in the Buddhist art of India, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. It represents the primordial union of wisdom and compassion, depicted as a male deity in union with his female consort.  

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