"...I felt the earth yawn this morning
As if awakening from a long slumber
Longingly toward the amber dawn
Saying to the universe
"My days of sleeping are done"
~ Leanna Aker
Winter, turning inwards, hibernation, sabbatical, gestation, India, pilgrimage, Mexico, renewal, Spring, rebirth, Light, letting go of the old, welcoming the new, walking the fire between the two, going to a place beyond my fears, living in the fertile ground of the unknown mystery, being on purpose, creating my own destiny...
Musings on My Last Three Months
India was amazing, beyond words really. Part pilgrim, part tourist, I experienced India as a land of contrast, both beautiful and devastating at once, with fields of golden mustard and daal next to mountains of rubbish. Startling poverty sits alongside shining light filled eyes and spirits that can't be broken.
India is an intense, raw, and vibrant country of spiritual color and ancestry. In Allahabad, at the Ardha Kumba Mela, a month long festival draws millions of devotees to partake in ritual purification baths along the banks of Mother Ganges. In the background the drone of devotional chanting extends the length of day and night. The sky at dusk is the hue of violet as the sun merges with and is reflected upon the sangham, the convergence of the three rivers, Ganges, Sarasvati and Yamuna.
In Varanasi, a city devoted to Shiva, the spiritual heart of India, I experienced a sunrise boat ride to usher in the dawning of a new day as city life bustled along the ghats (steps) leading to the river. During the day we visited temples and walked narrow alleys sharing space with local shops, scooters, the sacred cow and goats. Looking down, watching my step, (a wise thing to do) I bumped into someone, which is not hard to do in India. I said excuse me, only to look up and find it was a goat! The evening gave rise to a full moon and an auspicious ceremony called aarti. It is a breathtaking light ceremony; a mesmerizing dance of fire mixed with the bells, conches and gongs that Hindus sound to unite the closing of the day with the Divine.
The ballet of traffic in New Delhi proceeded more by sound than sight. Like a school of fish, the pedestrians, bicyclists, scooters, motorcycles, rickshaws, motor rickshaws, cars, buses and trucks share the same space, darting and flitting amongst each other. The hierarchy of horns led the way while periodically pausing for the unfazed, holy cow, resting in the middle of the road. It is an orderly chaos that just seems to work, so I sat back and relaxed, took it all in, drank up the colorful sights and sounds that surrounded me. I am immersed in India. Click here to see a slide show http://www.himalayaninstitute.org/HINewsletter.htm
The Energy Farming Conference at the Himalayan Institute campus in Allahabad was part of our excursion. Framed as A lasting solution to Global Crisis, it centered on the cultivation of a native crop known as the Pongamia Pinnata, a tree whose seeds will be pressed for oil, which in turn is used as a fuel alternative. This project, modeled and developed in India will be duplicated in Uganda, Africa. Energy Farming can help the environment, create jobs and a market for trading carbon certificates that could put farmers on the positive side of the economic scale. All this and more can be found in the Nov./Dec. issue of Yoga + Joyful Living, in an article written by Phil Scott - 8 things every good citizen should know about energy farming. Another eloquent and intelligent work that targets this topic is "Seeds of Hope" by Ishan Tigunait. http://www.himalayaninstitute.org/SacredLink/Biofuel.aspx
We also spent a day visiting three of the village schools that Pandit Rajmani and the members of the Himalayan Institute sponsor and support. The importance of education is paramount to creating opportunity for these children of the future. How can we make a difference? Become a member of The Himalayan Institute. You ll receive a subscription to Yoga+ Joyful Living, a remarkable publication that celebrates the full span of Yoga. Your contribution also aids the energy-farming project, funding for the schools, hospitals and more. Click here for more information. http://www.himalayaninstitute.org/SacredLink/BecomeAMember.aspx
I returned home with such a sense of gratitude, more than anything else. Gratitude for all that I have, and all that I am. I am abundantly blessed in all areas of my life. I am grateful for the choices and opportunities that surround me on a daily basis. One of my recent blessings was a return trip to Tronconnes, Mexico where I led a retreat for an amazing group of students. We shared a spirit filled week of daily yoga and meditation, culinary delights, sunny days spent snorkeling, hiking, general R&R, and full moon evening dips in the starlit ocean.
I went snorkeling for the first time...alone, and immersed in the beauty of the sea and her colorful creatures and found myself too close to the rocks I had been warned about. A wave came and tossed me onto those rocks and I was scared. Then another wave came and slammed me again. I turned to the ocean and yelled, "THAT'S ENOUGH, STOP IT!," as if I could will the ocean to cease her purpose. I finally disentangled myself and made it to shore, a little bruised and battered, wondering why that had happened to me.
When I returned to Phoenix, I was preparing for a class, going over notes I took in India from one of Pandit Rajmani's lectures on the Shvetesvatara Upanishad, which expounds on linking to the brightest, most supreme part of us. Being led by 'That' Pandit Rajmani Tignuait said, "Are you riding the waves or caught and entangled in the waves? To be truly miserable is to be drowning under the weight of your own unstoppable success, your crowning achievement."
That was my wake up call, like Allana's poem says, "My days of sleeping are over." Between India and Mexico and back home to my own heart I choose to live "on purpose" and to share these teachings in a more meaningful way. The recent spring equinox represents rebirth, a time for the seeds that have been planted, watered, and nurtured, to unfurl, to spiral out of their slumber and reveal their essence.