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Laura Brown-Lavoie: Organic Farming in France and Yoga/Meditation on an Ashram in Massachusetts

July 5, 2011

Laura Brown-Lavoie

I took a semester off fall of my Junior year, during which I spent two months in France working on organic farms (through the WWOOF database) and then came back to the US to spend a month living on an ashram in Massachusetts, practicing yoga and meditation. The reason I took time off was that I wanted to live in a french speaking place, but was not inclined to pay Brown tuition for it. I went to France hoping to practice my French and experience the culture of the homes I was welcomed into. My intentions on the ashram were to deepen and solidify my yoga practice, and to learn from the American Sikhs I lived with about what it means to lead your everyday life with spirituality as a principal focus.

I cannot overstate the effect these experiences had and continue to have on my attitude towards school, and on the way I envision my future. Some of the concrete outcomes of my semester off were beautiful and surprising relationships I made with farmers and yogis, as well as greater fluency in French, and a newly deepened spiritual practice that remains a vital part of my everyday life. Economically, time off was much cheaper than being in school (I had saved enough money in my summer/in school jobs to cover the entire semester with money left over) and ended up giving me the space I needed to explore aspects of myself that were not really the focus of my academic life.

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