It is about to rain here. The sky is heavy with grey-blue clouds; you can feel the static electricity in the air and hear the thunder roll across the valley. The plants are craning up, opening to the sky in anticipation of long awaited moisture and the smell of damp Jasmine is blanketing the town.
The storm started rolling in last night. As Shelly, Joe and I stood on one of our friend’s rooftops, awaiting his ride to the Bangalore airport and subsequent flight back to the states, the clouds loomed on the horizon. To the west the sun set under a canopy of jet black clouds turning the sky into a pallet of pinks, oranges, magentas… heat lightening illuminated the clouds giving the approaching darkness an ethereal feel.
To the East the pale, yellow, full moon began to rise as it if and the sun were on the same fulcrum, it seemed that for one to rise the other must set. It was a truly magical night and I was almost jealous that PJ was getting such a spectacular send off knowing that my own impending departure would come before that days’ sunset and moonrise.
Mysore is like living in a magnified world. Our practice bonds us together. Meeting someone new takes on a heady weight because you already know how much the same you are and that you will have plenty of topics to converse about in the coming weeks. Introducing yourself to someone over breakfast implies the impending relationship, soon enough you will be Facebook friends and you will be regularly planning coconut stand rendezvous’. It’s a commitment.
I have been outgoing and social while I have been here, forging intense friendships with people I may only get to know for this month. Some of course I will see again, the yoga world is a small place and the yogic path is a well-worn trench from which none of us diverts easily. No doubt many will meet again at a retreat or in India, but for now, we live in the moment and revel in the long days. I have come to have deeper connections with some I have only know over the course of two or three days here than people I knew for years back in Colorado. The Mysore magnifying glass makes us open, honest and communicative.
You cannot come here and not be changed, expanded and intrigued. There is a man here who is interviewing yogis for his PHD thesis. When he came to interview me, deemed worthy of an interview because of my year through yoga travels, I asked him how he could possibly choose his subjects, everyone here has a story, everyone here is powerfully interesting.
They say that yoga can give you super powers, and while I haven’t seen anyone levitate in the shala yet, I believe all these Ashtangis are living on an other-worldly level in a lot of ways. They are some of the most interesting people I have ever met. It’s like they have super lives and super personalities, if not obvious x-ray vision.
Patanjali said that through Samyama (meditation, turning the senses inward and Samadhi) one can obtain the power of an elephant by focusing on that creature. Samyama can make you light as a feather, or heavy as a boulder, it can make you giant like a tree or small enough to fit through a keyhole. The yogis here seem to be practicing Samyama on relationships. Samyama can make you lifelong friends in a week or it can help you obtain all the teachings you need from a person over the course of a single breakfast.
It is a belief among many Buddhists that you continue to meet the same people over and over again in all your reincarnations – an idea I can believe in since so many people here, that I am seemingly meeting for the first time, are so intensely familiar to me. If that is the case, then I think all of us Ashtangis must have had our own village once upon a lifetime. Pattabhi Jois would have been the mayor, my friend Shelly was for sure the social director, PJ would have been the sheriff, Thomas was the town sage, and thrown in the mix were a few tramps and gypsies. I was probably a gypsies or maybe I was the scribe, I can’t be certain.
Through lifetimes and eons our Ashtangi village has spread around the globe, but nonetheless we still know each other when we meet. I feel like I’ve known you all before and seeing you again feels like home.
As the rain starts to fall, the smells become even more intense. India smells a lot better than you might imagine. The dampness brings relieving cool to the scorched dirt streets and fields. The Technicolor pallet is slowly enveloped in the cloudy night sky and the full moon disappears from view. This dark and stormy night I will sleep like I did growing up in Ohio on rainy nights. The lullaby of raindrops, the safety of friends, the comfort of practice, all conspiring to lull me off to a deep relaxing slumber. If I’m lucky … I’ll dream about the last time we were all together.
Begin at the Beginning
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