Friday, October 9, 2009

1st September - Pleasant Encounters

I knew i had to leave today. This feeling has been growing inside for a few days. Restlessness. A prompting. At yoga this morning it felt like a fire in my bones. I could not stay. I woke up mid class, ran down to my room, packed a satchel with my tooth brush, soap and an extra change of clothes and left. I did not know where i was going, or how i was going to get there. I just had a strong desire to be close to the Ganges and to follow her close to the source.

I took a Rikshaw to the Rishikesh bus stand. The bus leaves every morning at 7:00am and 10:30 am to Uttarkashi. I learned this at the bus stop. I paid Rs155 and hopped on the bus for a 7 hour ride. There was a swami ji already on the bus. He looked a little dark and unwilling to socialize so i let him be. I had to wait an hour for the bus to leave and was getting hungry so i bought some bananas. They sell for Rs 30 for 12 in Rishikesh. I bought 6. I hopped back on the bus and gave the swami ji one. He smiled and accepted it.

A very friendly character hopped on the bus soon after. All smiles and laughter. Some sunshine in a dark place. :) Uma. She walks in with some fruit and sits in my seat at the front of the bus. She did not know it was my seat at the time. The bus tickets come marked. I learned later that nobody really ever follows the seating arrangements. Its usually a free for all. The bus started to move and i asked her if i could sit next to her. "Sure" she smiled.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aadays Tisai Aadays ~Guru Nanak Dev Ji's views on outward appearance ~Music by Snatam Kaur Mundaa santokh saram path jholee Dhi-ann kee karen bibhoot Kinta kaal kuaaree kaa-i-aa Jugat dandaa partheet Aa-ee pant'hee sagal jamantee Man jeetai jag jeet. Let contentment be your earrings, humility your begging-bowl and meditation the ashes you apply to your body. Let the thought of death be the patched coat you wear, chastity your way in the world and faith in the Lord your walking stick. See the brotherhood and sisterhood of all humankind as the highest order of Yogis; Conquer your mind, and you shall conquer the world Aadays Tisai Aadays Aad Aneel Anaad Anaahat Jug Jug Ayko Vays All honour to the One, Hail the Primal Being whose attributes cannot be described, Who is without beginning, the Unstruck Sound and whose form is One through every age. Aadays Tisai Aadays Aad Aneel Anaad Anaahat Jug Jug Ayko Vays

29 August - Life in Anand Prakash Ashram

Anand Prakash Ashram is situated in Tapovan which is North of Ram Jhoola and Laxman Jhoola. (Tapovan - from the two root words Tapasya - meaning specifically austerity, and more generally spiritual practice, and Vana, meaning forest, or wilderness. Tapovan then translates as forest of spiritual practice, wild place for practicing austerities, etc. ~ Wikipedia) The morning bell rings at 5:30 at the ashram. For those waking up with the bell that gives you half an hour to wash and get ready for yoga and meditation which starts at 6:00am and runs through to 8:00am. Aspirants are encouraged to wake up earlier than 5:30 and start their own practice before the group session. There are a few reasons why it is most suited to do ones practice in the early hours of the morning preferably during 4 to 7: (slight detour :)
1) This is the time when the Kapha Dosha is low in humans and Vata is high. It allows for more intense practice and meditation. According to Ayurveda, there are essentially three types of biological humors which in combination makes up ones inherent psycho-physiological nature or Prakriti. These are Vata, (space and air) Pitta, (fire and water) and Kapha. (water and earth) Along with these humors or Doshas come certain attributes. Human beings are said to be a combination of these Dosha's with any particular one in dominance. When Vata is high it is very conducive to meditation or more sentient and subtle efforts. 2) Thoughts do not really belong to us. They float around in a cloud of consciousness that belong to the human collective. In a specific geographical location, some people find it easy to "zone" into the thoughts of others. This is why in an intimate environment with someone familiar it is easy to think something and immediately find the other person expressing our thoughts in some form or the other. In a busy surround people find it quite noisy, not just outwardly but in the mind as well. A possible explanation is that there are many thoughts circulating the room and one is being bombarded psychically by these. During the early hours, most people are asleep and those who are awake are mostly concerned with spiritual practice which enhances the thought collective at that time and creates a higher resultant vibration for meditation and spiritual practice. We start our class at 6:00am by chanting the Aum. It is still dark outside and a few rays of sun start trickling in through the sky. The room is filled with about 20 to 25 people from different countries. The sound of Aum reverberates through the hall. Everyone is silent. Slowly we begin our practice and work it through to a comfortable sweat, all the while breathing in rhythm and chanting the ancient sanscrit mantras. This creates a strong feeling of oneness in the atmosphere. We usually end our practice with a shoulder stand, (sarvanga asana) fish posture (Matsya asana) and then finally in Shavasana while Gaurav Ji (our instructor) plays a soft meditational or chant CD in the background. He would then do a sequence of relaxation techniques with us, leading into yog nidra (the sleep of the yogis) and when people are ready they can leave. Some stay for a while after, going into deep sleep or conscious sleep. It is a relaxing and deeply meditative experience. After yoga we would make our way down to the dining hall for breakfast. All the food that is prepared at Anand Prakash ashram is prepared according to Ayurvedic principles and is highly Satvic. Tastes real good as well. :) Silence is observed from 9:00pm until 9:00am. Most of us eat in silence enjoying the company of the whole. Its during times like these that i begin to realize how over rated words are and how deeply connective silence can be.
"Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir Brahmagnau Brahmana Hutam Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam Brahmakarma Samadhinaha "
This is the prayer we would chant before eating each meal. It translates as:
"The act of offering is God, the oblation is God By God it is offered into the Fire of God. God is That which is to be attained by him who sees God in all"
After breakfast agnihotra ( ) is performed by one of the swamijis at the ashram. Attendance is optional. Alternatively one is free to go into town or sit by the river or read any of the books in the large library at the ashram. Rishikesh is filled with so many things to do for so many people with a variety of likes, one cannot easily get bored here. The ashram itself is so full of unique people coming from so many different walks of life. It makes staying here so interesting.
Lunch is served at 12:30 and our next yoga class starts at 4:30pm and runs through to 6:00pm. Saturdays classes are usually held outside on the beach by the Ganga. My body was very sore at first and now craves the classes. The Agnihotra seems to be having a positive effect on my body and mind as well. All in all this is a good place to learn, grow and heal.