Entering The Flow: LAMA in The Lobster Pot

By Chris Yonker

At last our much anticipated vacation to Colorado! A well earned time to slow down, connect to nature and each other! Tent, camping equipment, bicycles and suitcases packed we headed out for our planned adventure. The drive to our destination of Telluride was uneventful, Missouri familiar, Kansas tedious and Colorado fresh and invigorating with intermittent rain.

Upon arriving in Telluride we found a campground and set up the tent and air mattress then headed for a prearranged backup house about 20 mins away in the mountains where we could enjoy a warm shower. Intent on settling into a more organic and less driven pace we returned to our tent and got to bed just after sundown. While our air mattress proved comfortable during the night we realized we hadn’t planned for temperatures in the 40s. By the time morning came, despite cuddling intensely, our behinds were frozen and our enthusiasm for camping gone! Down came the tent and back up the hill we went to spend the next couple of nights.

Undaunted, we took the bikes to a biking trail for a leisurely bike ride, except just as the trail was proving too challenging for my narrow tires and 66 year old body, cold rain began to fall as my arms and legs began to feel like clay and everything was going into slow motion (signs of elevation sickness). My partner in this adventure headed to the car and I waited about 30 minutes at a gas station before he arrived to rescue me. Exhausted, we retreated again to our backup house in the hills where once again, we warmed up, relaxed and went to sleep at around 8:30 to enjoy the comfort of a warm bed.

Except, around 11:30 we were startled out of sleep by the sound of the front door opening and a voice “Hello, is there someone here?” “What the, what the???” Yikes, it turned out a woman who had been staying in the house had returned unexpectedly and while we went back to sleep for the night, we both were getting the feeling that our Colorado trip needed some serious redirection to get on track.

12 hours later, after looking at the map and consulting Hotwire, we decided to head to Pagosa Springs in the four corners area where we booked lodging for 3 nights. Whew! The word Pagosa means “healing waters” and the springs refers to the more than 25 geothermal hot springs located in Ute Indian country.

As we headed out of Telluride and toward Pagosa Springs we both sensed a shift in energy, and when we settled into our room a double rainbow lit up the sky as if to welcome us into the flow. The next day we adventured out on a 5 hour, 6 mile hike to a waterfall outside of town that was both challenging and refreshing. We decided to visit the hot springs to soak away the soreness of the hike that evening.

What I haven’t mentioned up to now is that a much dreamed of destination of mine is Tara Mandala, a 700 acre Tibetan Buddhist retreat center located just outside of Pagosa Springs created by Lama Tsultrim Allione. Lama Tsultrim is an American woman who took vows as a Buddhist nun as a young woman, and now in her 60s is a well known scholar, author and teacher. The focus of her teachings is accessing the divine feminine and psychospiritual inquiry. I had studied with Lama Tsultrim in 2009 and had dreamed of visiting her center ever since. We had tried to get in touch with someone at the center for over a month to arrange a visit but had been unable to get any response because they were in retreat. Even though we were still trying to contact them, we had pretty much given up.

It was a beautiful evening as we dipped in springs of varying temperatures, 95, 98, 100, 102, 103. There was a 114 degree spring which we passed up but hadn’t found one that was just right when we both saw one we hadn’t been to — by the river that said it was 110 and it was called the Lobster Pot. We decided that would be our last stop before calling it a night. So, we got in. Just as we were settling into the pretty hot water a group of 4 or 5 opposite us was getting out. As one lovely woman slithered out I thought I recognized her from yoga and meditation trainings we had done together and I remembered that she was affiliated with Tara Mandala. Coaxed to approach her I introduced myself and she remembered me! Just as I was asking her about her connection to Tara Mandala, much to my surprise and delight I looked over to her right and there was Lama Tsultrim herself, drying off from her soak in the Lobsterpot! The Lama graciously invited us to visit Tara Mandala and have lunch there on our last day in Colorado. Talk about being in the flow! It was magical.

Chris Yonker is the owner of YogaSource in Richmond Heights, Missouri. For more information please call 314-645-9642 or visit online at www.stlouisyogasource.com.