One month later…

…and the “force” is still with me! My practice has morphed into a nurturing and soul-satisfying routine of meditation, mantra, asana, pranayam, and meditation…but different from day to day as it needs to be. I feel lighter, expansive, creative, and motivated – so much so that “stuff” that has not been dealt with in a long time is now getting its overdue attention. That includes the mess in my bedroom – GONE. The pile on my desk – FILED. The dust collected on the shelf – CLEANED. The grudges, the what-ifs, the judgement, the worry – VAPORIZED…at least some of them. So much more to be done, of course, in this de-construction of old unserving ways but the point is the work IS being done. Already obstacles have fallen squarely in my lap and rather than choosing to run away, ignore, or retaliate I jumped right in. I mucked around and let myself feel all those emotions that come with resistance – frustration, anger, worry, fear – we all know those feelings well but we don’t always let ourselves feel them because they are yucky. Once enveloped in the muck of “yuckiness”, I heard one of my teacher’s voices reminding me to AUTO-SHIFT into a more expansive state and there I stayed until my mind cleared. Then I tackled the obstacle in a much better way – lo and behold I discovered it was not my obstacle after all. It was someone else’s that perhaps I actually planted in my own path…Interesting. More to come on what “auto-shifting” is in another blog post…

As I sit here composing, I’m feeling all mushy and warm as I remember some of the sights/sounds/smells of my Indian backyard. Every time I go through my photos I smile. Here are some memories worth sharing (now that I have decent internet access…).

The view of the Himalayan foothills from the ashram

View of Himalayan foothills from ashram

During our free time we maneuvered our way through the noisy marketplace to grab a chai, seek out internet access, make a long-distance call, or stock up on toilet paper at the organic grocery store. Cars, buses, tuk-tuks, motorcycles, cows, dogs, and pedestrians all share the same road, going different directions all at once. Mayhem…yet somehow organized…sort of…

Busy marketplace on a Saturday afternoon

Monkeys came to visit once in awhile, looking for food. We were cautioned not to smile or show our teeth to them in case they took it to mean a threat! The black-faced monkeys with the long tails seemed friendly while the red-faced, red-bummed monkeys were a little more aggressive and bold…likely to snatch at your backpack it they thought it was edible! This black-faced monkey was friendly and loved eating the dried apricots we fed him. Oops, confession time – we weren’t supposed to feed them…It was just once. Really.

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Cows…everywhere…and where there are cows, there is poop. And lots of it. Some cows were huge and bumpy, like this one. Others were skinny and clearly diseased. Some families were blessed to own one or more cows, and tended them in pens smack in the middle of a residential area. Most of the ones we saw just roamed around freely, eating whatever they could find…including garbage.

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The Ganges River may be considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world but at the same time, it is regarded as a very holy and sacred place to wash away negative energy, connect with the spirits of the ancient sages and those of our ancestors, send healing wishes to loved ones in need, and to bestow peace upon the entire planet. From our northern location, closer to the very source, the water was cleaner and fast moving – not stagnant. A current was felt and seen not only in the water, but within our hearts as we spent quiet time beside this grand river.

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India is colourful, in so many ways. From the bright orange of marigold malas and saffron robes of “Babas” or holy men, to the astonishing array of colour choices at the sari shop; from the red flower pots of the ashram garden to the bright faces of children; from the yellow of turmeric-laden chickpea lunches to the greens of the food market stalls; from the honking multi-coloured buses full of excited tourists to the over-crowded blue tuk-tuks…Everywhere there is the vibrancy of life in living colour. Why is it that here in the West, we seem to be obsessed with the colour (or “non-colour”…) black?? Because it makes us look slim? Because it’s a symbol of power, status, and trendiness? It carries the energy of heaviness…and we wonder why we often feel so blah…

ORANGE

ORANGE!

GREEN

GREEN!

RED

RED!

PURPLE

PURPLE!

Our daily diet of rice, dahl, mashed veggies, dates, and chapatis served in a stainless steel divided dish would fail miserably in “Hell’s Kitchen”; I could just hear Gordon Ramsay complain about presentation, flavour, and lack of spice…But our food was nourishing to our bodies, calming to our minds, and easy on our digestive system. We had a few memorable special meals at the ashram – a much-anticipated weekly treat of pappadums with kitchari, breakfast banana samosas with tamarind sauce, a blob of fresh organic yogurt after our mega-detox, and a delicious concoction of peas in some sort of gravy we had only once…But the real treat was a group outing to a restaurant attached to a Krishna temple. Finally, a taste of real Indian food with rich flavour and sauces and paneer cheese and sweet carrot halwa and chai…on a real plate with a fork and knife and not sitting on the floor but on a chair!! I can still taste it…

London and India 2013 791

So many memories and experiences too numerous to document…and while there was often a desire to preserve every wonderful moment in time by grabbing the camera, there was more importantly the need to be in the moment and simply feel it. I have my own private photo collection of new friends, fellow teachers, and what feels like an extended family. Such treasures are indelibly imprinted into my mind, but it sure is nice to pull up a pic once in awhile…especially as a reminder that one can actually wear a sari, sit on the floor, and eat with one’s fingers, and still feel like an Indian princess! Hari Om!

London and India 2013 738

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1 Comment

  1. johnstubbs8 said,

    January 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Beautiful, Anne, thank you. We are looking forward to spending a little time with you. John


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