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Monday, Jun 29, 2015 A firsthand account of the Nepalese earthquake


Paul Sharp is the son of one of our yoga and Reiki students. He was living in Nepal when the devastating earthquake hit this past April and he agreed to share the account of his experience with our community:


Nepal 1In 2011 I based myself in Nepal in order to further study and practice vajrayana Buddhism under my teacher’s guidance. After becoming Buddhist in my late teens, this was something I had wanted to do and prepared for for nine years. Growing up in southern California, I was not a stranger to earthquakes and I knew Nepal was a hot spot for large earthquakes as it sits where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Hence, over the last 40 million years the Himalayas were gradually formed. Whenever I walked through the narrow Kathmandu streets surrounded by poorly built buildings, it often popped in my mind that Nepal had not had a major earthquake in about 80 years. I always imagined somehow I wouldn’t be in Nepal when the big one hit, and with that thought I would simply carry on.

Nepal 2It was late morning on Saturday, April 25th when the initial 7.8 magnitude earthquake began. I was in my apartment near the great Boudhanath stupa with my girlfriend and sitting at my desk responding to a number of emails. Often, when we sit still and focus on something for a long time, we can feel our heartbeat subtly vibrate throughout our body. In the past I sometimes mistook this for a small earthquake, and when the very first shaking began I thought to myself, “You are just mistaking your own heartbeat for an earthquake again.” A few moments later my room began to shake violently and I knew this was a dangerous situation.

My girlfriend and I were fine, as were all of our friends. Though many of my native Nepali friends were not as fortunate, as they have family members who live in the hardest hit, remote and devastated regions of Nepal. I could see on their faces their experience of suddenly finding out their parents or siblings were now dead or missing. Some of these friends of mine are very good meditators, lamas and yogis who have dedicated their lives to dharma practice, and the way they were able to bear the sudden loss and take even the most gut-wrenching of human experiences onto their path was a great blessing to witness. Still now, many people are physically and mentally suffering due to the Nepal earthquakes and need help.

Nepal 3Though I was physically fine, it was a mentally challenging experience to see so much loss, devastation and uncertainty. Particularly in a place I have called home for a handful of years and in which I have been so spiritually cared for. My mom (Amy Izenberg) is part of a community of yoga and Reiki practitioners at the Param Yoga Healing Arts Center and she, together with many of them, were worried about me and kindly made me the focus of their healing practice. I am very grateful for their positive and loving intention towards me during this difficult time. The care we can give to others is based on our genuine intentions and our connection to each other. This is so beautifully expressed by one of my favorite Himalayan masters, the late Thinley Norbu Rinpoche:

“If we believe in the continuity of mind, then love inconspicuously connects us to the ones we love with continuous positive energy, so that even tangible separations between people who love each other do not reduce the intangible power of love.”


Paul works with the Chokgyur Lingpa Foundation for earthquake relief in Nepal. To make a donation, click here.