What a day. The energy of the day just felt off. From 4.30am in the morning when a friend from class pointed to a gathering at a home where someone had just passed, everything from then just felt uncomfortable. Chanting Om for half an hour this morning seemed easy when you realise you’re alive and breathing.
The exam was fine. I flew through it which was fantastic. There was the odd question I wasn’t sure of, but overall it was great.
I noticed during the exam Brittany wasn’t there but she arrived 20 minutes late, sniffling and and covering her head with her shawl. She was clearly upset. To be honest I thought she may not have passed the course and had just been told the news. I feel totally crap now that I know what really happened. After an Ayurveda class, which immediately followed the exam, Bharath told the class Brittany’s mother had passed away. The death was unexpected and happened while she was sleeping - as I understand. By the time Bharath told us, Brittany would have been on her way to Bangalore where she was booked to fly home to California at 8.00pm tonight. How terribly sad. I can’t even contemplate how she must be feeling right now. We sat in silence for a minute and chanted three Shanti’s for Brittany’s mother. The silence was deafening. We all felt sick with the news. How tragic.
After lunch with the group at the Royal Inn, as a mini celebration for finishing our studies (the group wanted to try and keep up their spirits), I rushed home to speak with Owen. A blubbering mess, we talked about life and death. How death can throw people into the present and remind them they only have now. At any time we could get a similar call, as morbid as it sounds. We just don’t know. My struggle to accept this fact makes it even more terrifying and I’m the typical westerner who tries to ignore this reality. But at the end of the day, this is the reality. None of us can stop it. I guess this is why I’m so committed to living my life how I dream. To follow my heart. To enjoy every moment to the fullest. Because at the end of the day, this is all I/we have. Moments.
As I write this I am listening to the sound of glorious rain. The second time it has rained since being in Mysore. This first was about a month ago for a couple of hours only. Whilst singing my favourite slow, almost sad, evening chant with Bharath’s wife, the thunder began giving hints of what was to come, followed by lighting and then a sudden, almost explosive opening up of the skies. The rain bucketed down for the next half hour. We then sat in the dark, starring at the flame of a candle (for our usual evening Trakata kriya/meditation) all the while listening to the rain pour and the thunder roll. It created such an eerie yet almost magical atmosphere. The streets were dark as power was off all through Mysore. Only those homes and buildings with generators remained lit. One was certainly very careful walking home in the pitch black with crazy Mysorian drivers around. Definitely an evening to remember.
There were so many things which happened today that I wanted to recount. But I shall select only a couple or I could be here all night and I have an exam to study for (it’s tomorrow).
Time for subtitles.
At 4.40am I was standing outside the Shala and ready to prepare myself for our morning meditation then asana practice. With new cotton mat in hand, I was ready to give it a test run. This morning was a little different to normal. Usually the Shala is well lit as we enter, however today it was in complete darkness with only a faint red spotlight shining on the huge Om which is painted on the back wall. The feeling of the room was instantly calm and sacred. I totally forgot we were doing Om meditation this morning so I moved myself to the back of the room with all the others when I noticed everyone back there.
Bharath entered the Shala at 5.00am on the dot and quietly sat behind us all – directly behind me in fact. In complete darkness, we all sat motionless starring at Om and then chanting Om together – over and over and over for half an hour. Ommmmmm, Ommmmmm, Ommmmmm, Ommmmmm…. It’s amazingly calming but I swear I thought I was hallucinating at one stage. The vortex Om is painted in just drew me in. And then there was quite a substantial amount of time where I sat hating the meditation, worried I was going to be chanting Om for the rest of my life, in this agonizing pain my back and hips were in. Knowing Bharath was behind me also meant I didn’t dare move my legs. I was terribly distracted. I went from focused to not focused over and over and over again. Who would have thought sitting perfectly still and chanting Om for half an hour would be such a struggle! We will do this for the rest of our mornings here, and on Saturday, we will do it for 1 hour before our Surya Namaskara Marathon straight after. God help me.
After out mid morning class which takes us through to lunch, a gorgeous (personality and beauty) Iranian woman who is training with us, stopped me outside as she wanted to tell me something. We’ve never spent much time together so I had no idea what she was going to say. She told me she has always admired how much I enjoy everything about my training. She said she watches me all the time – in asana practice, in philosophy, student lectures, chanting etc – and she can see how much I love being there. And even though I find something challenging or struggle to learn something, for example an asana and how to correctly adjust, she has noticed that I still manage to be completely present, smile and still enjoy the process. She said I inspire her to be the same way. That even if she is finding something challenging, to always try and stay positive and enjoy. This completely blew me away. What a lovely thing to say to someone. She may never know how much that meant to me, but it is something I shall carry with me always. I think about my previous life in the corporate world. I never had this same passion. It took from me. But it’s also made me appreciate this new path, these new choices, so much more. Those experiences shaped who I am today and I now feel truly lucky for the path I have been led down.
Contrary to this conversation, unfortunately I ended up eating lunch with some other students who were having a completely oppostie conversation. Long story short, all they were doing was complaining. They don’t like listening to Bharath, they don’t like philosphy classes etc etc. I couldn’t believe how negative they were being. I just kept quiet and ate my lunch rather than getting involved in this crap conversation. It was as though they had listened to nothing about what yoga fundamentally is - the control of the mind, having an open mind, acceptance… I honestly felt/feel sad for them because those attitudes are stopping them from enjoying their time here. It’s all about perception. If you want to enjoy, you will. If you want to experience no pain, you can. If you want to sit chanting Om for 1 hour motionless - it can be done! Our minds are the hardest things to control, but it is within our control still. So choose differently. Choose better. Be open to experiences rather than closed. Then wisdom will come.
My final point - I used my new cotton mat this morning. Turns out I was the most stable I have ever been in Sirsasana - splitting my legs, twisting my body from side to side with heels touching, lowering my legs parallel to the ground - and this is all because my arms weren’t sliding out from under me. Great investment!
As the mat smelt of chemicals, I decided to wash it after class. Then tonight, mid way through class as I was beginning to slip, I rolled it out and it turns out I now have only 70% of the mat I had this morning. Looks like a good 30% shrank in the wash! I officially have the most anorexic cotton yoga mat in the class, and possibly anywhere - but hey, it’s India! Rather than get annoyed, I just laughed. Just another unique thing about this place. Nothing is perfect which is such a great way to be. As long as its wider than my feet, it shall still do the job. Haha.
Ok, time to study. Thanks for reading and remember to keep smiling. It will change your world for sure.
Special moments from my day
He was so proud to have his picture taken with his orange