Here in the Indian city of Mysore, my iPhone tells me that it’s the morning of January 24 — although in my experience, both time and place have been sort of folding on themselves, and I wouldn’t have been sure of this otherwise . . . because I feel like I’ve been at this moment already, a few days ago. And who knows, maybe I’ll feel like I’ve returned again a few days from now. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been here, and I suspect no explanation is needed if you have.
In some parallel universe in which my pregnancy that began last year had gone to term, this calendar date would have been the due date. The date around which my entire life — and that my husband’s, and probably those of our parents too — would have revolved.
Today, it’s just a Friday — my last, physically, in Mysore. Dates are only important if you make them so.
Led class just finished and I’m headed to Kukkarahalli Lake, which I visited a couple weeks ago and found invitingly tranquil — a much-needed oasis in a city that feels so vibrant and full of life, but also pretty arid. It’ll be a short visit, because around
lunch second breakfast time, I’m slated to start the car ride out to Namdroling Monastery, more commonly known as the Golden Temple, located in the Tibetan refugee settlement of Bylakuppe.
I didn’t plan it this way, to head to a renowned temple on the due date. But I’m so happy a friend invited me on this excursion, because it seems like an appropriate place to be to honor a brief pregnancy that brought me tremendous spiritual gifts. Those gifts included having the clarity to realize that it could happen, this pilgrimage to Mysore to taste the source of the ashtanga practice. That pregnancy was also when, as a pescetarian, I had deep rumblings of wanting to go fully vegetarian — vegan even. And it was the beginning of what would become the most fruitful time I’ve ever had in terms of meditation practice.
After the miscarriage, I wrote about the emotional difficulties of returning to practicing yoga for one. At the risk of sounding too woo-woo, as my friends are fond of saying — mother India has a way of doing this, though, doesn’t she? — I can’t help but think this trip is energetically for more than just me. The images and phrases are all mixed up and flow together — KPJAYI, shala time, return to the source, ekam, water, salty water, lake water, flow, India, return to the source . . . I wouldn’t recommend reading too much into it; for my part, right now, I don’t particularly need or want to make sense of it or even to a create a narrative, which I am always so inclined to do.
Today, I’m looking forward to simply trying to stay with the here and now.
In the midst of the spicy masala mash of sounds that is India, I’ve been listening to Jack Kornfield’s soothing, raita-like voice read from his A Path with Heart, and I love this part:
When we let go of our battles and open our heart to things as they are, then we come to rest in the present moment. This is the beginning and the end of spiritual practice. Only in this moment can we discover that which is timeless. Only here can we find the love that we seek. Love in the past is simply memory, and love in the future is fantasy. Only in the reality of the present can we love, can we awaken, can we find peace and understanding and connection with ourselves and the world.
Love in the past is simply memory . . . yes and yet . . . and yet.
>>More Mysore dispatches:
Profiles of ashtangis telecommuting from Mysore
Need to work while enrolled at the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in India? These ashtanga yoga practitioners have done it, and they want you to know it can be done. See what tips they share for how to make it work while working from Mysore.
So you helped get an ashtangi to Mysore? Thank you, truly.
So, ashtangi with the “Mysore, Karnataka” Facebook location tag — who helped get you here? Perhaps you can send them a note of thanks if you haven’t done so in a while.
Temple tour to Belur, Halebid, Shravanabelagola
I didn’t come to Mysore, Karnataka to be a tourist. But it was wonderful to be one on this moon day, doing a 208-mile round-trip drive and hitting three ancient temple sites.
Sankranti is one of the few Hindu harvest festivals celebrated in India that’s tied to the solar calendar. And it’s a new year of sorts! What an incredible month. I was in Mysore for the New Year’s Day holiday that I adore so much. Now we have Sankranti, with is promise of auspicious beginnings. And I didn’t realize until after I arrived that the day I fly home will be the Chinese New Year.
Thank you, interwebs and wifi
When I was playing my trip to Mysore, I kind of thought that the ideal way to experience this trip would be to unplug. Man, was I wrong about that one.
Castor oil baths and not (particularly) getting things done
Rest day + castor oil! I think when you’re studying yoga in India, my day so far would have been considered productive. At home, this should have all been done by noon.
And then there were four — led classes, that is
From healing to teaching, from deepening to escaping, everyone here obviously has a unique and personal story about whey they’re here right now. But is there something drawing us, collectively, at the dawn of 2014?
First breakfast, second shower, next electric practice
‘One more, 9 o’clock, small.’
How does Sharath know? And btw, where did my feet walk off to?
Since my first day at KPJAYI, I’ve found myself constantly wondering, “How does Sharath know?”
One week into my month-long stay here, it seems obvious to me that a big part of coming here is not about the practice at all — it’s about seeing where our areas of density are in our life. It’s easy to spot when a tight shoulder is the obstacle to steady comfort in a pose. For some of us, it’s harder to spot our areas of density in our daily lives.
So familiar and yet . . . so familiar
In Mysore, it helps that even when I don’t know someone, I maybe know someone.
Rain down on me
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.
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.
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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