[Mysore dispatch] Rain down on me

I got some rough news really early this morning before my led primary class. I made it to led primary, made it through breakfast, and, back in my room, as I pulled out my bucket to start washing the day’s clothes, I started crying. This happens to everyone who makes this pilgrimage to study ashtanga in Mysore, right? Some variation of being half-naked in your room with tears flowing — maybe for a particular reason, maybe for no reason.

These tears were for a friend who has just taken his own life. I’m guessing the start of a new, dark year was too much to bear.

It was my second friend in as many months who has decided death is the lesser of two evils. (For the depressed, is there a more searingly brutal time than the holiday season?)

I have so many — so many — people I can lean on here in Gokulam, but I wanted most to talk to my husband, who also knew this friend. But it was the middle of the night in Michigan.

Perhaps then . . . a little Radiohead to soothe the soul. Neither Pandora nor Spotify were available with my Indian IP address. I had a split second of panic and thought of last.fm. Only a Radiohead fan would find it comforting to be in India and able to listen to Thom Yorke’s nasaly voice singing, “Rain down, rain down / Come on rain down on me. / From a great height / From a great height…”

No small part of what I hope to do in India is find a way to honor life and sit with loss. Back when I planned this trip, the most salient loss was my miscarriage from this summer. Having two friends take their own life in the past 30 days has amplified the grief.

And . . . as I type this, last.fm has just started The Eraser’s (Thom’s side project) “Harrowdown Hill,” about biological warfare expert David Kelly who was either murdered or committed suicide in 2003.

Life is so fucking hard, and both of these friends sought solace in yoga of different stripes. I remember reading Eddie Stern’s bit on human suffering in the Huffington Post a couple years ago:

. . . everyone experiences suffering. Suffering is undiscriminating and it comes to all who live on this planet. Yoga affirms, though, that there is a way to deal with it: by practicing yoga poses, by breathing consciously for a few minutes each day, and by being attentive, thoughtful human beings, we can mitigate the mental torments we all experience.

Yoga helps. In both of these cases, I am convinced yoga helped either prolong their life or lessen the day-to-day pain somewhat. But yoga alone isn’t necessarily enough to set the train of depression on an entirely new course.

>>More Mysore dispatches:

Plugging my 120V self into this 220V space

When Sharath led my hands to my ankles in assisted dropbacks, I could feel my little 120V self had hit full charge.

#gratitude #possibilities

In my reflections today, I decided to try, in the spirit of noting arisings and passings in all things, to see if I can start each new day this year with the type of intention that I start New Year’s Day with each and every year. Toward that end, I’m quite grateful to get to start each day with the ashtanga yoga practice — that makes such a difference in being able to enter the rough and tumble with some equanimity.

Emptying the cup

‘It’s like water in a cup. If a cup is filled with dirty, stale water, it’s useless. Only when the old water is thrown out can the cup become useful. You must empty your minds of opinions — and then you will learn.’

#235, 8th Cross, an eternity and a blink of eye from my first ashtanga practice

This post is for all the home practitioners out there. Mysore is 10.5 hours off from home (9.5 hours without daylight savings). But that’s not the time that really matters, because the time that really matters is shala time, which is set 15 minutes ahead of local time.

Checked baggage for DTW –> CDG –> BLR

What I figuratively and literally packed, or didn’t, for my first journey to India.


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11 thoughts on “[Mysore dispatch] Rain down on me

  1. Thinking of you and following your travels closely Rose. You are such a light. At least, you have been to me. Thank you for this and I’m sorry you are grieving so far from the comfort of home. I think you are right about yoga not being quite enough in the thick of depression:( For me, psychotherapy and yoga have gone hand in hand. It’s just so much easier to talk more openly about yoga. The miraculous thing is that there is actually help. It’s not just something people have to accept and sit with the rest of their lives or dull with medicine. I wish people talked more about these things. I don’t think a lot of people know there is actually help out there. Or when they finally get the courage to ask for help, they get disappointed and dismissed by our healthcare system.

    Looking forward to seeing you when you return. I hope your time in India is fueling your beautiful soul.

    • Thank you for your sweetness (as always!), and for sharing your experiences. I agree — it is much easier to talk more openly about yoga.

      I hope there will come a point in our society when mental health issues can be discussed more freely, but it will take quite a bit of work both within the health care system and on the level of people’s perceptions and beliefs.

      Do you think that there is a way, locally, to bring together the collective wisdom we have in our community in order to create, at the very least, some sort of resource of referrals? I am inspired by what the Firecracker Foundation has established in order to help victims of sexual abuse…

      We should get together when I return to talk about this and to catch up. (On the one hand, “when I return” seems like a long time from now. On the other hand, I’m bracing myself for how soon that will be. :-) )

      And yes, this time is absolutely fueling my soul. I am so grateful.

      • My first thought would be like a collective yogi recipe book where people share the ingredients for health beyond just their yoga practice? I don’t know, but I’d love to continue the conversation:) Thanks for the invitation!

  2. I’m so sorry to read this about the loss of your friend and that you have to deal with this while you are away from home. Since the loss of our mutual friend not so long ago, I have thought about yoga and it’s potential to help people deal with depression and other mental illnesses.

    As you know, this is close to home for me. And I relate to the problem that most of us don’t want to talk about these things. I don’t particularly want to say here that my diagnosis is bipolar disorder – and I have training in yoga for depression and have even led a couple of workshops! I still don’t want to “reveal myself” and my “weaknesses.” But I do want to be a part of change…

    And I’m unnerved by the fact that these friends took their own lives, even though they practiced yoga. I have to hold onto the belief that their practice helped them.

    On a different note, keep these dispatches coming. I’m so enjoying them and feel as though I can share your experiences from afar

    • Thank you for sharing this, Kim. Having been to one of your workshops on depression, I do think that the depth of your own experience, combined with your training, will be a tremendous resource if — and hopefully when — some in our Lansing community can get together to see if anything can be done to establish more yoga-based resources for those who live with depression.

      As I said above in chatting with Cassie, I think what the Firecracker Foundation is doing for sexual abuse victims is admirable and inspiring.

      We’ll have to keep the discussion going. I am loving my time here as you can tell, but I also look forward to getting back home and catching up with you.

      • Yes, more discussion to follow….
        So glad you’re having such wonderful experiences and looking forward to hearing more about all of them!

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