A: My name is David Leija. I’m from a very small town in Texas called Ferris. I had more people in my first year of college than I had in my whole town! I’ve always been a creative problem solver. Back in Texas, I was a mechanical energy major at the University of North Texas and a full-time chef at a vegan brunch restaurant. I now work at the Himalayan Institute as a chef, where I use my creativity to prepare traditional ayurvedic foods with a modern twist that caters to people with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diets. I am also currently pursuing my masters in environmental engineering at Penn State with the hope to eventually work for the EPA.
Q: How did you find the Himalayan Institute?
A: My fiance’s family has been involved with the Institute for generations. She’s been coming here since she was two years old and has had family members living at the institute since the mid 70s. For several years, we discussed moving to the Himalayan Institute to broaden our life experience. Eventually, we decided to pull the trigger. I got everything settled with my restaurant back home, we got rid of our house, and we gave away all our furniture. Now we’re here!
The people here give off an overwhelmingly positive energy. There is a powerful aura of happiness here.
Q: What inspired you to join the community?
A: The people here give of an overwhelmingly positive energy. There is a powerful aura of happiness here that I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I wanted to know what it was like to experience this level of contentment and well-being by participating in the residential program at the Institute. It’s very rare to find this level of community support, kindness, and inspiration anywhere else.
Q: What have you learned during your time here?
A: People have a lot of good to offer the world and each other. I grew up in a rough environment where it was easy to be cynical about others, but the people at the Institute have proven to me that others are not as bad as we think they are and that we have a lot to offer each other. It’s a feeling and understanding I’ve always wanted and I am so grateful to be here to experience it!
Q: If there was one thing you could share about the Himalayan Institute, what would it be?
A: The food here is very special. The meals at the Institute have healing and medicinal properties that are rarely found in other places. The ayurvedic process and the intention that we put into preparing and serving the food has a clear and profound effect on bettering people’s lives physically, mentally, and spiritually. I think that it’s something everyone should experience at some point in their life.