Today was a day of simple pleasures and that made it very special.
I practice everyday except Saturday on normal weeks. We also take off full and new moon days and women skip the first day of their period. This week I got four days off in a row – at least off from the shala, I still practiced on my own.
Saturday was my normal rest day, Sunday I skipped led class to attend an all day meditation, Monday is a national holiday in celebration of Lord Shiva, one of the Hindu gods in the Trimurti, and Tuesday is new moon. My first week had been so full and busy that this break was very welcome.
Saturday I spent my first rest day with Claudia, we had breakfast with a large group of students from the yogashala and then spent most of our day at the Mysore market. Claudia, very kindly helped me to find lodging when I first arrived and let me walk right into everything she had established in her time here. This morning I moved into her flat and tomorrow I pick up her rented motor scooter. Really I cannot thank her enough for making my intro to Mysore so easy and comfortable.
Sunday, per the invitation of my teacher Katiza Satya I attended and all-day meditation led by Swami Paramahamsa Nithyanada. The Swami is a fully enlightened master at the ripe old age of 31. He has a large following and travels the world leading meditations and helping people realize what they require to atain fulfillment. He is a beautiful, always smiling man and the meditations he led us through were some of the most lovely ones I have ever had.
As part of the day participants had the opportunity to be blessed by the Swami and to ask a question, which pretty much was akin to asking to have a wish granted. I spent the entire morning trying to formulate my wish. We had been warned to think it through very carefully, that what we wished for we would get, so if you wished for a big car, you might end up driving a bus.
Finally I settled on asking for clarity of mind, speech and purpose. I threw a in footnote request that want to be a writer, student, teacher and traveler and that I would require the tools/means to sustain such this lifestyle – we’ll see if footnote wishes are granted as well.
As beautiful as the day and my meditations were I have to admit that I had a few Love Guru moments during the day. If you have not seen the movie you should. Not that it is necessarily a work of cinematic genius or anything, but when I saw it, it allowed me to laugh at this yogic path I have chosen.
Around midday I took a stroll through the hall where the meditation was held and perused the for-sale items. The Swami sells books, CDs, malas, photos and even pens adorned with his image. These all seemed pretty standard to me and while I don’t see why I need to write with the Swami staring at me, none of it seemed too much to me. That is until I got to the condiment section. The swami sells blessed bottles of chili sauce, face creams and various tinctures that promise to settle your belly or moisturize, I can’t be certain which. Anyway it was the condiment table that made me think of Mike Myers as the Love Guru finishing every profound statement with a TM – trade mark.
This morning I said goodbye to my beloved friends Claudia and Satya. As I watched them drive away I realized that I am now alone in India and that is a wondrous opportunity. I packed up my things and delivered them to my new flat. Seeing off my friends meant getting up at 4:45 so I was little groggy. I decided to venture out for a cup of coffee. I had no luck finding an open café, but I did get to begin my simple pleasure day through this walk.
First I stumbled upon the local dairy/milk store. Cows are so commonplace here I might not have noticed this unassuming little stall even with a dozen heifers tied up out front, but upon closer inspection I realized that the men were milking and there was a steady stream of stainless steel pail laden dairy consumers. The milkers would deliver their pail fulls to the merchant who would then turn around and pour the pails into stainless steel jugs which were quickly snatched up by customers. It was a simple, efficient and I found beauty in it.
From there I went to the coconut stand to meet Kim, Shelly and Joyce, new friends who invited me to join them on a trip to Bylakuppe for the day. Bylakuppe is about two hours from Mysore and it is special because after the 1959 invasion of Tibet, many Tibetans settled here and today this Buddhist enclave feels like you must have crossed a border somewhere. Word on the street was that the Dalai Lama was here and so we set out to see if we could spend another day with His Holiness.
Turns out even the Dalai Lama needs a day off. We did not get to see his Holiness on this day, but we all meditated at the temple where he was resting and that was plenty for me – two days of meditating with masters is all this little Western girl could possibly hope for.
Monks in crimson robes filled every corner of Bylakuppe. We got to watch young students recite prayers from their brightly colored books under the gazes of three golden Buddhas in one temple. Where the Dalai Lama was resting we watched devotees walk clockwise around the temple, counting off the beads of their malas and reciting prayers as they rounded the corners. Colors, prayer flags, monks, malas… these are the images that Bylakuppe has emblazoned on my mind, but the image I will always remember is that of a young monk sharing his rationed meal with a beggar on the street, such a simple and generous gesture.
Back in Gokalum I settled into my new home. I allowed myself to completely unpack and took the time to adorn my room with some of the items I have picked up along the way.
Tonight I sat out on the roof serenaded by the flapping of Buddhist prayer flags as one of the daily power outages blackened the street below and illuminated the stars above. I made myself a simple dinner on the single burner propane camp stove my flat came with and indulged in writing a lengthy post about what a beautifully simple day I had.
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