We decided to leave Vrindavan in the early part of the New Year. It was difficult to nurture our growing relationship in the communal setting of the Yoga Farm, and the situation was not helped by the fact that the Farm’s resident director wanted Mike for himself. We found a sweet little house on the outskirts of Grass Valley. It was nestled in to a pine forest and built in such a way that the deck was nearer the treetops than the ground. My sister and her family had moved in to a house high on a hill overlooking Nevada City a few months before, and we all started enjoying life on the periphery of the ashram.

Mike and I were married in a neo-traditional ceremony in the forested Sierra Foothills north of Nevada City under the full moon in March of 1977. I had researched Hindu-Vedantic wedding ceremonies as best I could in books in the library at Vrindavan, and we filled in the gaps with our own flair. It was a small ceremony, with a few good friends and lots of music and chanting. Even now, it is Tara’s expression of her delight that he and I had gotten married that is the sweetest part of the memory.

After a few months, my sister’s anger and vengeance took on a whole new dimension. She was mean to everyone, constantly complaining and starting arguments with people. My husband and I decided that some time away would be good, so we took a trip around the country. The trip also afforded us the opportunity to meet each other’s parents for the first time. We returned in a few weeks with my younger brother in tow, having picked him up at my parents’ house on the way back. The rest of the summer was spent riding the roller coaster of my sister’s moods. The good times that we had were sometimes overshadowed by her anger, and the final straw came when she threw a flower-pot at Mike’s head in anger.

We knew that we needed to get away from her so that we could start a life together free of all the family drama. We left, and we severed ties with my sister. This, sadly, meant also saying goodbye to Tara. We decided to move to San Diego, where Mike had friends.  As we drove down “the 5” to San Diego, I fell asleep in the passenger’s seat and dreamed of a little living space, quiet and with sight of the ocean. Our time in San Diego was blissful. We found a nice little apartment that was the one I had dreamed about when I was sleeping in the car on the way down. I had described it perfectly, and couldn’t believe it when we actually found it. It was in a quiet place in the lower hills above Encinitas. After a short time in the production department of (the original) Well Being Magazine, I got a job working in the same houseplant nursery as Mike did.

We maintained the regimented life of the ashram, starting at four in the morning for meditation. We usually played a set of tennis before we arrived at work at 7:00AM, worked until four, and then returned home to do our asanas, eat dinner, and then do another hour of meditation before bed. We were not sexually active, since Mike did not want to have children, and so my internal energies were strengthened as I did my spiritual practice. The Vedas prescribe celibacy as a means to heighten the energetic effects of the kundalini, or natural energy force in the body, and mine took a strong turn in their opening. I began to have physical effects from it, especially in my ears and throat. There were times when I could not hear very well at all, and other times when the softest sound was horrendous to me. Once, a semi-truck passed us on the freeway, and I almost passed out from the harshness of the noise.

In the midst of all of this, I received a letter from my sister that was very disturbing. Her tone and her subject matter were, even for one as aware of the unseen forces as I was, very strange. My sister seemed to think that she was the reincarnation of the Virgin Mary. She was pregnant with her second child. Tara, she said, had become an enlightened saint. I wrote back to acknowledge receipt of the letter, suppressing my discomfort about its message. I spoke to my mother about it and hung up the phone in a daze after the way she had reacted. She did not seem to feel that there was any cause for concern, and told me to not be concerned with very strong sentiment.

Our Indian music teacher, Swami Nadabrahmanadaji, was staying at the Yoga Society in San Francisco, and I wrote to him about all of this. He encouraged me to come back up to San Francisco and get treatments for my hearing from Dr Ramurti Mishra, at whose ashram he was staying. I flew up North and stayed for two weeks. In my very first acupuncture treatment, Dr Mishra (later Shi Brahmanada Saraswati) placed a needle behind each ear as I was sitting backwards on a chair, resting my head and arms on the back. When he placed the second needle behind my right ear, I literally flipped over and was lying on the floor. He was a joyous man, and just laughed and laughed at my release of energy. I was dazed, but not hurt. I was mostly overjoyed at being able to hear. Treatments continued daily, and I would finish with a sauna and then a nap. As I slept, I was aware of my charkas in all their glorious serendipity of energy, each one a moving spiral of glittering colors.

My evenings were spent with my teacher or sitting with the Sanskrit class. Every afternoon, I would accompany Swamiji on his walk. I was able to learn so much from him. One day, I was very upset about being away from my husband, and I could not stop crying. Swamiji called me in to his room an hour or so later, and handed me a photograph of himself, standing with my husband, that had been taken up in Northern California a year before we were married. As he handed it to me, he repeated his favorite saying. In his broken English, he said, “You coming alone; you going alone. This (pointing to my husband) is impermanent. Empty hand coming; empty hand going. This (indicating my spirit) is permanent.” Then, he hugged me hard and said for me to be with the picture and to remember and I would feel better. At dinner that night, his attendant came to me and told me that she had packed all of Swamiji’s things when he came to San Francisco from New York. The photo had not been amongst his belongings. The weight of that information was not lost on me, and I felt even higher regard for Swamiji’s abilities. His message to me was translated by my heart in to the following poem.

                        be like a chime
                            in the wind
                         and make music 
                        as you give way

Two years after moving to San Diego, we began to make plans to move back up to San Francisco for continued study in Vedantic philosophy, music, and Sanskrit, and so that we could be back in community with our friends. I wanted to continue study with Dr Mishra. He was a wealth of knowledge and helped me so very much in understanding how to move and use my energies.