July 30, 2013

Feeling Good with Family: Last Days of Our Research Mission to Nairobi Kenya

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:39 pm by satsanga

Feeling Good with Family

Last Days of Our Research Mission to Nairobi Kenya

Africa Yoga Project Research Team

7/30/2012

 

Family (jamii- in Swahili- according to the dictionaries online) was the theme for the Saturday 7/28/2013 Shine Center Community Class in Nairobi, Kenya with the Africa Yoga Project. Paige began 200+ student class with some Adele that inadvertently went on repeat. Paige explained that that is how yoga is, it repeats and repeats and in there, in the practice, you figure it all out. I loved that. It was true to what I know in my heart. In the practice, you find your truth. The whole research team was in the building and we were all in the moment. The class was co-taught by the AYP teachers and the experience was wonderful. Like the week before, it was a hard class : ). The assistants rocked it and we felt amazing at class end. We had that yoga-class-feeling of jamii or family.

 After a Saturday class at the Shine Center, there are many announcements. My mind was on the research and I was struggling to be in the moment. We were supposed to collect teacher data and Phase II student data after class. We had collected data for 46 adult students after the previous Saturday’s class and we hoped for 45, at least, for Phase II. The announcements were many. I was so very anxious people would leave and not help because it was getting so late. I had reason to worry.  First, we where headed to Thika school after the community class data collection. Second, Thika is about 1 hour away. Third, the children there are vision impaired or blind and Phase II would take us a very long time there. So, this was why I was struggling. People kept sharing and announcing. I kept telling myself, “Stay present Catherine. Stay present. It will work out.” My heart was pounding. Then, something pulled me right into the moment. A group of the AYP teachers were surprised by an announcement that they had officially become Baptiste Certified Teachers and in the group was Irene!! Irene was a member of our Research Team Family or Jamii. Ahhh, I was in the moment and glad to be there.

 Finally, it was announced that those students who were willing to help us with the research could eat first and bring their plates over to the yoga room and begin. My heart was pounding again. One person, two people, and soon a group of five people was sitting down. Ugh— not enough. Then, Joyce, Musa, and Wanji began recruit volunteers.  Soon there were 15, then 20. When all was done, we collected 47 Phase II packets! We were at target! Phew. In the midst of all that, there was a Thika surprise.

 You see, Nan and Susan had chipped in to pay for a large group of Thika students and teachers to be transported to the Shine Center for the community class. Nan, thinking on her toes, suggested that since the Thika children were already at the Shine Center, why don’t we begin Phase II with them. Of course! Brilliant! So the team split, some helping AYP community class students and others helped he Thika students. We were able to finish the Thika students without having to drive 2 hours to collect the data! The Thika students were such hard workers and so committed to the work. Can you imagine sorting ideas without being able to see them or read them- all through audio input and communication? ….. no, me either. I began hearing Nina Simone in the background—If you  have not heard her sing “Feeling Good” Google it right now- it is perfection.

 

“Feeling Good”

Birds flying high

You know how I feel

Sun in the sky

You know how I feel

Breeze drifting’ on by

You know how I feel

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good

I’m feeling good

Then, to the complete and utter joy of the entire research team, we had 2 hours off to get ready for the final team dinner. Susan and Nan were leaving for safari (Susan that night and Nan the next day). Sunday- Steve was heading out early to help children on the coast and Brooke had a flight back to the USA in early afternoon. Sunday morning Jessalyn, Carla, Jerry, and I along with the whole Kenyan team would be headed out to Mama Fatuma Orphanage on Sunday AM to wrap up the data collection (except Jamo- who would be getting ready for his art show). Still,  Saturday night was our official last dinner. We all waited for Jerry to secure and Jembe deal (a wood and animal skin drum) and then our drivers took us back to Gracia Gardens to shower and pack.

                                                                 Fish in the sea

You know how I feel

River running free

You know how I feel

Blossom on a tree

You know how I feel

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good

 Zack and James our drivers/security for the week, picked us up at Gracia and took us to an Ethiopian restaurant. Angie led the evening. When we arrived, there were assigned seats for the whole team- Kenyan and US. There were bags made by Benta (check our her stuff at the AYP store online- super cute). In each bag was a SHINE research team t-shirt. At each place setting, there was a set of cards and things to do. I don’t want to say too much because if you decided to do a seva safari (which you should absolutely do) I don’t want to spoil anything. I will just let you know that there was fire and happy hearts involved. We ate from big platters of sour dough bread, beans, hummus, and other amazing vegetarian tastes. Jessalyn and Musa were officially the first to eat their WHOLE platter and it is the first time I saw any competitiveness manifest from this young yogi’s eyes. I will post the photo on Facebook- Musa with a smile and Jessalyn with an intense, victorious glare : ).

 

We had a great time and said good-bye to Susan as she left on safari. A group of us went to the Italian place for dessert, some went to bed, and Steve and Brooke headed to the Moroccan Bar for an evening of cultural education (which I still want to hear more about- Brooke)! My heart was wide-open, thankful, loving, and feeling like family after a big Sunday dinner. Earlier that night as we were eating, I looked around the table thinking that just over a week before I was just meeting some of our team members. Other members I knew from the yoga studio, some were my friends, close friends. But after this collective effort, I was looking at my family. 

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know

Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean

Sleep in peace when day is done

That’s what I mean

And this old world is a new world

And a bold world

For me, For me

 Sunday, those of us who were left felt like people must feel when their kids go to college. Jessalyn, Carla, Jerry, and I were there and things felt small. We were thrilled to see Nan and her friend who was joining her for safari and then some of the Kenyan research team members. Ahhh- things were feeling right as the numbers grew. We hugged Nan goodbye and got into the van for Mama Fatuma Orphanage. The kids were as beautiful and hard working as the last time we visited. They completed Phase II and I think it was harder to leave this time than the last. It was then that it hit me, “We are done. We have collected all the data.” I looked at the team members and I drew my scarf to my mouth over my eyes and said, “I think I am going to cry. Wait, I am crying.” I cried tears of utter relief. We had 118 phase II packets of child students, 87 packers for adult students, and 40 teacher packets. We more than surpassed the numbers we needed for  validity and more than exceeded our hopes. Yes, I cried.

 It was now official. There were no more questions about the possibility of pulling this off. I promise you that less than a year ago when I approached Paige at Art of Assisting in Cleveland, Ohio, I scared myself with the idea of completing a study, on yoga, in another country. I stood on my own two feet and said, “Hi Paige, I have an idea.” Well, from that point on this was about manifesting something that has never been done before, anywhere else, in any form. An BY GOD- WE DID IT- me, Jessalyn, Carla, Nan, Susan, Jerry, Brooke, Steve, Irene, Jamo, Musa, Wanji, Joyce, Louis, and Angie. WE, our research family, did it. Each person on the team did at least one thing that saved the day. Without any one member, —- ahhh- I can’t even imagine. I was feeling good. 

Stars when you shine

You know how I feel

Scent of the pine

You know how I feel

Oh freedom is mine

And I know how I feel

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

 The beauty of the day began. We arrived at the contemporary art space next to what I am pretty sure was a mansion outside of the city of Nairobi. Jamo (previously referred to as Jemo- I was misspelling) was showing his amazing photographs– a series on Kibera. The images were themed on the home as a shrine and illustrated the beauty and care that can take place on the inside of a home even in the most challenging of circumstances. It was a breathtaking exhibit. There were authors and dancers and musicians along with a gorgeous spread of food and drinks. We spent the whole afternoon bathed in beauty stimulating every sense- eyes, ears, and heart. We then headed to the national park for a Debe Debe- a drum circle with Irene, Louis, Wanji, and Musa. We played drums in the park, in the sunlight, and open air. Jerry was in absolute heaven. 

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life 

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

It’s a new life

For me

 It was time to go. We hade to finish packing and leave for the airport. Before I close, I want to tell you about the data. We had taken to calling the bundles of completed, Phase II data packets “babies.” Each data collection trip, we put members of the research team in charge of the babies (data packets). This was done in fun and jest and in all seriousness. Our family, our jamii, had been quite productive and had “birthed” several big babies. We took the care and feeding of our babies extremely seriously. Once a team member was charged with the care of one of the babies, it was his or hers until it was placed in the large “play-pen” or suitcase in me and Jerry’s room. In fact, on the flight home all of the data went with us on the plane- carry-on- NO checking of the babies- these beautiful bundles of joy when with us on the plane!

 We got back to the USA later yesterday- data in hand. We had a little bit of a dramatic flying story- ask Jessalyn, Jerry or I in person- ugh. Still, we landed safely and soundly with the babies. I went to bed early and woke up in what would be late morning Nairobi time- so I felt awesome. I taught my 6 AM yoga class at Power Yoga Buffalo, loving very minute of it.

 I got home and threw on my running shoes and headed out the door with my music in hand. About a mile up the road, toward the falls, it came on, “birds fling high, you know how I feel…” I put the song on repeat and ran as fast as I could. I felt as if I had wings on my feet. If you ever wondered if it is possible to run, cry, and laugh at the same time—the answer is – yes, yes you can.

 

And I’m feeling good

 

I’m feeling good

I feel so good

I feel so good

 

Namaste! (and Kenyan Team- I miss you already)

 

Catherine Cook-Cottone

Advertisements

5 Comments »

  1. wanji said,

    Miss you too Catherine… You are an amazing writer

  2. nan said,

    I’m ready to plan the next study when you are!

  3. Jamo said,

    Thanks Catherine, I like how you write. It’s beautiful.

  4. Marta said,

    Catherine,
    I set aside my organic chemistry work tonight and read through all the AYP blog posts…amazing. Thank you for taking the time to document your travels and research. I cannot wait to hear more about it. I am feeling utterly inspired.

  5. I want to make sure that you pick up my articles and blogs about parenting. Click https://zhoutest.wordpress.com/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: