An Apprentice’s Experience

Dayla Carlson, spent 3 months as an apprentice with us last year, and so kindly wrote down her experience to share with all of us.  Thank you Dayla, it was a true honor having you join us.  You are an amazing soul destined for greatness.

“As someone who suffers from the burden of too many expectations, being with the Natural Living School was some serious medicine. First of all, it fundamentally reshaped the way I think about learning. Having been raised in the institutional education system, I had come to expect my learning experiences to fit into some sort of formula, and to be largely directed by some forces larger than myself, forces which somehow claimed to know the best way for me to learn. In direct contrast to this, the Natural Living School introduced me to voluntary, consensual experiential learning, that responded to individual needs and openly addressed the spiritual nature of being alive. This form of learning quite honestly intimidated me at first, almost created fear within me. But that fear was stemming from the discomfort of confronting the individualism/complacency that society had planted within me. After three months of learning this way, I can say that it was the most empowering experience of my young life thus far. Suddenly, I realized that I have power over my own learning and also the power of the cosmos within me.

Chiseling joinery on round wood cedar timbers
Chiseling joinery on round wood cedar timbers

It was empowering on a self-confidence level, but also on a skills level. I gained literal survival skills, i.e. the ability to construct shelter for myself. This empowerment opened up an intimate connection with the earth, and it will now be one of the reasons I am able to live life according to my own set of ethics, rather than living my life according to broad standards and cultural expectations. If I can make my own shelter, what else can I do on my own? Can I feed myself from the earth’s bounty and the sun’s energy, rather than feeding myself from a series of artificial packages? These are the types of questions my experience as a natural builder encouraged me to confront. In a sense, participating in this program woke me up from the passive slumber of mere acceptance that I had been living prior. No more figurative identity boxes, no more literal mass-produced boxes (“homes”) for me. It felt like…liberation!

Water and Shade breaks are a must wile working on a Cob Greenhouse.
Water and Shade breaks are a must wile working on a Cob Greenhouse.

The fusion of natural building with spirituality also benefited me greatly. Even if at first I was reluctant to participate in classes and meditations, simply being hosted in such a peaceful and mindful environment (the Expanding Light) generated peace within me. I eventually found myself being moved to meditation at every sunset, and sometimes even being awake to meditate for the sunrise. I did not think of it as meditation at first, simply watching and appreciating the sun. But it took on serious ritualistic characteristics and I began to derive much of my daily strength from my daily meditations. In this way, being with the Natural Living School connected me with my passion for meditation, inner reflection, and then sharing those feelings with others. Overall, I came away from the whole experience with the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to radiate the positivity I was feeling to all beings surrounding me!

Its hard work waiting for others to finish chiseling their part.
Its hard work waiting for others to finish chiseling their part.

I still harbor these passions for earth-based spirituality and teaching others the skills I have acquired. I sincerely love the experience I had with Pablo, the Natural Living School, and Ananda Village.”

by Dayla Carlson 2013 NLS Apprentice

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