It is November 2022 and I am 63. My new name, Suryahridaya, means “she whose heart is like the sun” and looking back now over the decades I can see how I have travelled “the kingdoms” looking for somewhere to place my heart. I've studied zoology (animal kingdom) at university, worked in garden centres (plant kingdom), and sculpted in stone (mineral kingdom). As a young woman I spent time as a volunteer in Kenya and India imagining I could save the world.
The death of my father when I was 27, was a wake up call - and the greatest gift that he ever gave me. My old life fell apart. I restructured my working life (garden centres are less busy in winter) to create new spaces and contexts for change and exploration, for travel and adventure. I started to learn to sculpt and to paint. I walked into the Brighton Buddhist Centre. Creative practice and spiritual practice hence forth went hand in hand, becoming gateways to a new language and a richer more meaningful life.
I joined the operations team at Taraloka in the autumn of 2016 as maintenance manager. In January 2017, the decision was taken to mark Taraloka's 35th anniversary with a major project: landscaping the neglected area of land outside the shrine room. Designing the Earth Sky Garden was an extraordinary gift, a totally unexpected opportunity to explore my passions, and to integrate different aspects of myself. It helped me realise that I have been engaged in uncovering and revealing sacred space all my life. Responding and opening to nature and beauty, encouraging a spirit of awareness and enquiry, connecting physically with material, exploring relationships (inner and outer landscapes, centre and periphery), and bearing witness: this is a language I love, and one I love to explore with others.