I’ve been back in India for over a week now and I would be lying if I said this hasn’t been extremely challenging for me. On every possible level. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.
So many assume the trips to Mysore are holidays. I can assure you, this is far from a holiday. I’m someone who likes to be comfortable. I like my bed, I like my washing machine, my kitchen. I like the familiar. I’ve done a lot of overseas travel alone and it turns out I’m really just a quiet soul who likes the simple things in life. My home, my pooch and my man. Oh and of course, my students. Perfect! So coming to India each year is a real struggle for me. (or character building put in a more positive way!)
Coming to India, which is super uncomfortable for me, is my commitment to myself, to my practice, to the practice. I appreciate and accept that if I want to progress as both student and teacher then I must continue to invest in my learning. My philosophy is - “who am I to teach if I do not maintain my self-practice and self-study?” So I journey back to India where I can continue this learning under the guidance of Guruji, a man whom I feel so privileged to learn from.
But none of this makes it any easier. My back is in agony as I write this. Nothing to do with my practice. More to do with the rock hard mattress I’m sleeping on. I spent yesterday trying to get rid of nine or more of the biggest cockroaches I’ve ever seen in my life! Other times it’s just a little lonely.. I have a wonderful life back home, with a partner I adore and students who I can’t wait to see every day – so it’s really tough leaving that behind to be in near solitude for a month.
However, as I step into the Shala every morning and afternoon, I am reminded of why I come here. Every moment in the Shala is precious. Looking around the room this morning, listening to the subtle sounds of others as we all practice in silence; I was moved by the intense focus, discipline and commitment of every person in there. Everyone working at their own pace, challenging themselves a little more, pushing on despite how tired we all are.
There is nothing fancy about where we train. A simple room with bars on the windows and nothing to be heard except the breath, groans and snorts of other students. If you ask any Ashtanga practitioner who comes to Mysore to train, they will often say they come here for the same reason – the energy of the room. There is something so beautiful about how we as individuals, on our own unique journeys, unite when in the Shala. By hearing each other, by practicing beside one another, we are One.
It is this collective energy, this absolute devotion to the practice, and more so to ourselves, that draws students back each year. Certainly not the ease or glamour of India. It is having the eye of our teacher to help us see what we cannot that allows us to progress. It makes the difficulties of being away from loved ones or waking with a bad back worth it as there is something bigger going on here.
So, off I go to bed. Concrete slab and all. My back is paying for it but I shall maintain my practice. I will work with my body rather than give into it.
I miss home. I really do. But I know I will be home soon enough. So for now, I’m committing to being present, staying focused and appreciating the opportunity to continue my training.
Missing you all and sending hugs,
P.S. I would love some hugs sent back. It really can be a little lonely here ;)