Sunday, March 11, 2012

When the center of the universe is a coconut stand...

When the center of the universe is a coconut stand... not a coconut, the coconut stand.  Of course there must be hundreds in Mysore, but you know the one I'm talking about, because your whole life revolves around it... 

My first week and a half in Mysore and I'm feeling the rhythm of things here like I've been here forever.  For as long as the days feel, they are also quite full.  I start my day with practice, Monday through Thursday are self-practice, and I start around 8am, although the time will keep moving up earlier and earlier as people keep leaving.  Friday and Sunday are led classes which start at either 430am or 6am.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have chanting class in the morning after practice, and then Sanskrit and philosophy class later in the afternoon.  I love chanting, it is so beautiful.  I wish we did it every day.  The words and melodies stay with me all day long, echoing for hours with their beauty.  Sundays we have conference with Sharath, usually in the late afternoon.  Saturdays and full/new moon days we have for rest.  My experience so far has been filled with so much joy and happiness, lots of laughter bubbling to the surface, thoughtful & knowing smiles, so much brightness shining through.  I really enjoy my connection with Sharath.  Some love him, some fear him, some revere him... for me, it is all of these, and yet, most of our interactions look like this, filled with joy and laughter and a good amount of goofiness.  It is very much the same energy I experienced in the dream of him when he told me, "Come home, it's time."  He has quite a sense of humor, and we also share a deep love of wilderness and photography.  He told me some pretty amazing stories from a trip he made to the Serengeti.  He offered to show me his work sometime soon, and I am very much looking forward to that!  
As far as practice is going, I'm still working on catching the bind in supta kurmasana.  I am so close to getting it.  Sharath came up to help me last week.  He said, "you do" as he helped me bind my hands, and then when my hands kept popping loose as he crossed my feet over my head, he said, "Ahhhh, you need to eat more chapati."  No chapati, no strength.  The next day, he was helping someone else when I got to supta k.  My shoulder was hurting and I didn't even try to get all the way into the bind, but I went as far as I could.  He came over after I had started my backbending and asked, "Did you do?"  I smiled and shook my head no and told him my shoulder was hurting.  He said it will help if I can get my legs as far up over my shoulders as possible when entering kurmasana.  Interesting, right?  The tendency when I'm hurting is to back off and not go as deep, but that may be precisely the thing that is causing pain.  I said to Sharath, "Monday, I will do it, both [hands & feet]"  He said, "Yes, you will do... I will help."  And then he smiled and laughed in a way that inspired confidence, comfort, and a just a bit of fear, which are all useful and motivating for me right now. 

Yesterday I attended the Yoga Stops Traffick event at the Mysore palace.  The event was held to benefit Odandi Seva Trust which is an organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate victims of child trafficking.  They carry out brothel raids and provide sanctuary and a chance to rebuild their lives for the children they rescue.  The annual global event is held to bring awareness and raise funds for the cause.  There were a lot of kids participating along with many from the yoga community, there were even quite a few Tibetan monks who came to watch as well as many locals and passersby who stopped to see what it was all about.  After twenty seven sun salutations, coconuts and holi colors to celebrate!

On my rest days, I've been getting body work from a couple of different Ayurvedic massage therapists/healers.  I've found one in particular that I really like.  Aside from helping open up my shoulders and hips - things were popping left and right, and he always made this 'ahhhhh' noise like he could feel the release in his body - he told me I have fear in my belly.  He said, "Do you feel this, these knots?  That is fear.  Mmmm, yes, here.  See?  It gets in your way, restricts you.  Shine the light there.  Let it go.  Let the light shine in there.  There is darkness so many places in this world, but here, the light must shine."  After the session, we sat around and talked for a bit.  He said, "There is brightness within you.  Listen, listen.  Your body belongs to this earth, your soul belongs to god.  Listen to them.  Listen to them like you listen to your best friend.  Listen like you listen to your teacher, to your guru.  See?  You listen, and then it will come.  The brightness within you, let it shine through, and listen to what is says.  Let it guide you..."  Beautiful.  I am looking forward to my next session with him...
Aside from practice, study, healing, and socializing, I have been wandering around photographing things for my next series of fine art pieces.  India is amazing, a feast for all the senses.  The oils and incense and silks, the grime and rot and non stop horn honking, the laughter and despair and devotion, the smell of jasmine and spices and burning trash, the coconuts and kumkum and wandering cows, the beggars and holymen and housewives, the chanting and yelling and the hundreds of unheard whispered prayers... I love it here!  The joy and sorrow are interwoven so seamlessly, as it should be.  Everywhere I look is heartbreaking beauty.  I am so inspired by it all, it feels like such a gift.  I find myself filled to the brim with gratitude.  My heart breaks opens in awe of it all.  Everything about it is just so beautiful, even the sadness is full of beauty... The light will break your heart, if you're lucky now...

ॐ स॒ह ना॑ववतु । स॒ह नौ॑ भुनक्तु ।
स॒ह वी॒र्यं॑ करवावहै ।
ते॒ज॒स्वि ना॒वधी॑तमस्तु॒ मा वि॑द्विषा॒वहै॑ ॥
ॐ शान्ति॒ः शान्ति॒ः शान्ति॑ः ॥

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति: ॥


  1. Wow! Thank you for sharing. Namaste.

  2. Sounds amazing, and I love the pictures, especially the children.

  3. just found your blog dear Laura, very inspiring and beautifull...greetings from the other side of the world...