In the month of April I was able to slip away on a solo journey into one of the most spiritually evolved cultures known... allowing the time to unplug from the daily grind, and plug into something much deeper ....essentially adventuring into new spaces so raw, my already grateful heart transformed before me - as I fully embraced this journey. In India, you see it all. Gaining a few new perspectives on life, I am happy to share some here. Enjoy the read, and namaste.
Getting to India
Step one: was to get to my destination. This meant leaving my everything to get on a 16 hour flight and fly halfway around the world. I said my hard goodbyes to my most favorite people, and off I went. All seemed to be going pretty smooth and according to plan… until it came time to exit the plane and prepare to navigate Delhi at midnight. This is when I started to feel a wee bit “all on my own." I could only prepare so much beforehand as this part was inevitably unknown territory, no way to know what I'd be walking into, besides standard typical India chaos. I was ready for the one quick choice to roll up my sleeves, activate my ON switch, and be brave. I planned for this moment by knowing this moment was an open space that I could only allow, accept and embrace...and when the airport gates opened, it was all there, all at once. I felt vulnerable like all of India was watching and waiting for me to walk out, cluelessly. I tried to seem like I was comfortable, and knew what I was doing...I mean, I had already done this once before...but the truth was I had no clue where I was and everything felt different then last time, not much was in English, and I really wasn't sure how was I going to find my driver in alllll these people...was he even here??...should I stay even though it's been 30 minutes now and still couldn't find him?? Or where should I stand that’s out of the way so I can figure this out, because I currently had 1000 offers to give this “American girl” a ride, and they weren't leaving me alone. I was processing alot of uncertainities in this clip of time, it was over-whelming to say the least.... the air suddenly flooded with “that smell” which in that moment I realized I had never forgotten. The smell of India. It was sweaty and hot and my bag was heavy - noticing it all at once - the smokey haze, the dogs, the orchestra of horns, too many people, the noise levels…true chaos... and still looking for my driver...and then...TA-DA. Through the head spinning swarm of it all, I saw a sign that sure looked close enough to my name....I saw a short stubby man that seemed to acknowledge me too... wow I felt so relieved. I ran over, reluctantly laughing with ease and felt like I wanted to pick up my new little stranger buddy, Lovely, to gave him a squeeze. After 2 seconds we both realized we didn’t speak a lick of the same language, maybe just Namaste. It must have been the happy twinkle in my eyes and the name Krishna Carton on his board, because we both just knew I was the American girl that he needed to find and we had found each other. It was an incredible feeling. I followed Lovely step-by-step trying to keep up with him as he led me to his car for my ride to Jiva Gram. He effortlessly dodged crowds of people and dogs, he was making great headway. I may have been a little too slow or too polite to barge through the crowds like he, but I sure did my best to kept up to that man, I was not gonna lose him. He quickly slipped into an old rusty-not-safe-looking-under construction-elevator, with 50+ people already in it, and somehow there was still room for plenty more to keep filing in...truly like sardines...so I slipped in too and held my breath, up we went. When the doors opened we all let out like a giant exhale into even more chaos, this time on a different level of a cement parking garage. Cars bumper to bumper with horns blasting and space for nothing more to move, but somehow it did. Lovely led the way to a small little white car decked out in colorful tassels. I jumped into the backseat and was so happy to have found my ride. Low and behold we barreled through the night down bumpy streets , through mucky puddles, around many cows, having way too many very close accident encounters - but not even one scratch to show for it...ripping down dirt roads that apparently would’ve went all the way to Bombay if we hadn’t veered a sharp left...which led to the tiny rural village where I started to see signs for the wellness center. Atlas, we pulled up to a locked gate that looked pretty high security. When Lovely started beeping the horn numerous times, I watched the security guards who were fast asleep, sitting up in their chairs, not even twitch…not even the slightest flinch. It was a deep sleep in a chair alright. Being that the car horns in India are more like blow horns in my world, I was surprised that this blast of sound wasn't enough to startle everything in this close proximity...but regardless, Lovely got out and was now banging on the windows. This got both guards to jump, fumble and drop the keys, just like a scene in a Disney movie, and let us in. Somehow I still felt like I was in good hands and was very happy to arrive at my destination. There was a nice gentleman who was awaiting my 1:30am arrival who showed me to my clean quiet room .I finally felt comfortable, had some tea, took a shower, and eventually rested my eyes. Truly grateful I had made it, what a day of travel that was.
April 11th- 12th
Getting Settled & Starting Panchakarma
I woke up in the morning and went straight to the window. I was so curious to learn what was surrounding, and what was creating the unfamiliar sounds. Birds? Bugs? Cats? Seeing rural farmland for the most part, with run down half-built shacks, which no doubt looked to be homes in between the borders of wheat fields...and hazy signs of civilization in the distance. The wellness center stood tall, was completely fenced in, and adorned by beautiful gardens and a walking path around the facilities. It was amazing to stand here and see this building that must have taken so many years of hard work, by so many people, and to see it in person! The last time I was here 12 years ago on this same land, it was just open fields. The phone rang loud, I grabbed it...“Downstairs now” followed by a click. I took this as a friendly nudge to quickly get dressed (in my day one of what felt like a costume) but will soon start to feel more comfortable (actually digging my DIY Indian style.) At the desk I was given a schedule by a worker who spoke no English. Waisting no time I saw my first appt was a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, Dr. Anand. I liked his style right away. I walked into his office which was impressively made of eco friendly sustainable cow dung, looked like plaster, he pointed at the chair and demanded I “sit.” He jumped right on board and asked me just about every question possible, about my body, how it works, any symptoms, big or small, he asked for every detail, and this is what I love about Ayurveda, it all matters. He talked fast and I missed a few things but he and I now knew that fortunately I have not much going wrong health wise, and actually a whole lot was working right (for my pitta-vata constitution.) I made it clear that I am intentionally here for preventative measures…and voila, the doc created a 14 day protocol that was guaranteed to have me “living younger and longer life." Thanks sir, I am 100% on board. I was told to go eat breakfast and meet at the treatment rooms when done. The food was delicious, healthy, flavored with spices that are ground daily for each meal. While moving around I noticed I was the only American, Canadian, North American, caucasien, English speaking, solo, female, generally healthy guest at the center. Gulp. I felt eyes on me at all times and I’m sure it was due to curiosity and wonder, of what is she doing here!? I just smiled and waved lots to let others know I was friendly, without speaking, it was all like a game of charades. After a few solo meals a few people would come eat with me and ask me questions. As awkward as the interactions could feel, it also left me humbled that little communication is possible thru kindness. I showed up for my appt. “Clothes off” at this point I just followed all direction. The tables were wooden and hard, nothing soft no gentle calming touch, no soft music, nothing fancy or zen about the room. The treatments actually had me feeling like a slippery fish being rubbed down and getting prepped to cook - flipped poked slapped - by 3 therapist at the same time. Hands and fingers slipping around and manipulating my joints and all my pieces, with no shame! Oiled to the max and then “done, out.” Okay! Namaste! The overall goal for the next week phase 1: was to get as much oil thru massage, externally and internally, prepping the body to loosen toxins and junk: so it can rid easily and work at its ultimate potential. It all makes sense to me and this system is ancient wisdom that dates back to roughly 5000 years ago. Its a way to rid the elements that make the body sick in the first place, eleminating any root of dis-ease and any symptom, from anywhere in the body. This is a way to treat the body on a level which will lessen the root of any symptom. This is a process that cannot be done in less then 10 days so I needed to extend my stay here by a few to make it possible (I’m not half ass-ing this job after all this hard work!) I met with my personal yoga therapist who I am getting a kick out of. He is also a yoga nidra teacher and his Hari OM Dat Sat’s are as authentic as they get. He was like a character in a movie that fits an ideal image of a flexible, disciplined, compassionate, sparkly eyed yogi, Mohnish …and he got me good during our yoga Nidra session, I drifted far far away. I also got a chance to meet with Dr. Chauhan, it made me so happy to see the man again. He invited me into his office to catch up, and take a tour of the center. Doctor C is a legend and 100% speaks my language. He is spreading Ayurveda on a global scale at this point, it is so inspiring to see a man and his family work together with a vision, and see it explode with time. I am happy to be here and feel so grateful for this experience. Proud of myself to live outside my comfort zone like this and be reminded first hand that the world is a beautiful place, yet not always a comfortable one...and it's in these moments that you learn - that the color of the gift only comes from the grey of the shadow...as I repeat my manta to "allow, accept & embrace.." ...
More to come soon.
Turns out I am enjoying my daily schedule. Its given the night before, and actually has been pretty reliable considering its on India time, where time seems to stand still and no one seems to be worry about it. The pattern seems to be rise and shine, slip into my cozy loose fitting attire: cover up with my white cap, shawl and head scarf, and head to the yoga Shala which is a stunning bamboo hut structure with windows that surround and give lovely views of the garden. Mohnish is already deep in meditation as I open the door. He opens one eye and says “Yesssssss I see you on this day, let’s begin” ...with so much enthusiasm. His classes are so good, the feeling of authentic yoga with a genuine teacher who has mastered the asanas. “Take a 126.96.36.199.5 inhale, and take a 188.8.131.52 exhale.” The sequence of postures and breathing techniques are provided just for me and my body’s needs. I leave feeling just right and head for the kitchen. For the past 3 days I’ve followed direction to drink 40mL - 80mL - and tomorrow 120mL - of straight up medicated ghee. Woof. This is not easy and hard to even write about it so I’m going to just say it’s my least favorite part (so far) of the panchakarma process. I also know it’s the most important. After plugging my nose and guzzling threw gags I head to get my morning treatments. This involves a gallon or two of more oil and tomorrow will start adding steam which will help the body sweat and release even more and take things to the next level. My body is feeling good for the most part (slightly tired, slightly achy from all the heavy ghee) I’m only 4 days in, curious as to what shape I’ll be in after 14 days. As quiet as it has been not having anyone to talk to I have actually been enjoying the peace and silence. That being said it was nice to see a new face check into the center yesterday, someone who spoke pretty good English and wasn’t Indian. Thomas from Poland, also checked in for preventative reasons and we have been running into each other between our busy schedules and sharing meals and laughs together. It feels nice to have a buddy in an otherwise isolated environment. He is a bit of a chatter box so I now need to find the good balance of making sure I am getting exactly what I need for myself, and interacting wih someone going thru their own personal stuff...trying to unplug from taking care of anyone but myself, just during this short time that I am able. A few times I’ve had the funny feeling that I’ve checked myself into a rehab facility or some kind or a health asylum - such a tight schedule, meals at set times, cant (and don’t wanna) leave the grounds, everyone’s wearing white hats on head after treatments (to keep in oil) - but makes us all look oddly ill or something - it makes me laugh - also feels like this is the best and only asylum I’d want to be apart of. Today I did walk outside the gate with Thomas only for a moment, to peek at what’s around while I wasn’t alone. We saw a cows walking down the middle of the road, motorcycles swerve around them, kids with no shoes playing in muddy puddles, a wild peacocks making crazy calls (that’s what I’ve been hearing,) a flat bed truck flew past with far more people on it then I’ve ever seen before, some packs of cute but wild dogs...this was all in about 3 min - also in these 3 minutes I felt an over-whelming sense of reality..seeing these dusty, dirty, hardworking, rural people, living just another day in their lives, giving it all they've got, weathered faces and dry skin, I could see fixed eyes...find my eyes...and in between the commotion of exsistance ..we gazed at the sight of one another...and it felt like I was standing still in a surrounding tornado, with my grateful heart flooded in awe, as I watching and this life move...in a world so different from all I know....suddenly we heard a loud horn and everyone nearby ran at once to gather around a man blowing from a conk shell, he was wearing a dress like gown with a fresh flower garland necklace. Little did I know every day at 6pm the horn blows, if you are blessed to hear it, you come running, stop whatever you are doing and devotedly run. Thomas and I were right there so we were apart of this ceremony to the God Krishna and his wife Radha, that went on for a while, seemed like forever. People were singing and would drop to the ground in praise, mindful trance like movements that we could only be left to wonder what it all meant. It ended with everyone getting a smoke bath blessing and some holy water splashed at them. What an experience, I’ll take any and all the blessings.
Healing From The Inside
These past few days have felt short yet long at the same time. I must say I have really softened into this calm peaceful environment, repeating my mantra to allow, accept and embrace all that is, and I am really starting to feel the effects. The best part may be that no one has needed me. I haven't cleaned any messes other then my own, made no meals, yelled zero times for anyone to get their shoes on...rested when my body needed it...this has all free'd my mind in a subtle yet profound way because my body knows it can focus on just me, in these moments. I know all the prep work is crucial to the healing of the body and mind and cannot be rushed. Phase one for the first week has been the prep. Phase 2 is now the release of all that’s been loosened & dislodged, oiled, unctuous and ready for exiting. After all of the abhyangha oil massages (twice/day for a week); after all of the warm-oiled shirodharas applied to the head and hair to calm the mind & nourish the brain; after all the full body steamings in a chamber that makes a girl profusely sweat (until she truly can’t sweat no more); after skipping breakfasts and eating only spiced soups and easy to digest liquidy dal - like - kitcheri meals... I am experiencing feelings of fatigue, aches, itchy eyes, funny twitches, pain of different sorts...interestingly on this note I was re-experiencing aches and pains that I had over the past many years, especially in my hips/the last time I felt this pain was in my childbearing era 8-10 years ago when I needed to see chiropractor often to gain relief / I remember the feeling now as vivid as it was with my changing pregnancy body / aches / pains/ sensations, and this correlation of the release is fascinating to me. It shows that the body does hold onto and stores past experiences and pain, on a cellular level. This cleanse is really allowing for any and all issues, physical, emotional, energentic and stubborn, to let go...and find their way outward.
AND SO: after all of the prep: today my body is finally ready for the grand ol’virechana (aka: the purge) which is activated by drinking THE WORST decoction I’ve ever drank in my whole entire life. This was indeed the thickest, most bitter, fullest can of a challenge I now hold under my belt. 3 practitioners cheered me on, thru sweat and gags, I did my best. The craziest part to me was that the 3 ladies said “no ma’am, no bad taste” I beg to differ on that one!! I was sent to my room with a tiny rolled up herbal ball and told to swallow it, wait 10 minutes, and good luck. I knew I was in for something and I had literally 10 minutes to prepare. (Side note: I was given no warning of what was really going to happen next. Just a happy easy go lucky "good luck." Good thing I had a vague idea from my studies of this topic, but nothing beats first hand experience.) That being said I was quick to learn it was a stay-in-your-room-kinda-day - with nothing to do but embrace the process - hey everything was working according to plan…until 6pm...(and this part I still need to process...will either update soon or completly block from my memories, not sure yet.)
Virachana: Spring Cleaning: The Real Deets
Okay I'll share. I needed to take these notes about this wild experience - I also needed some time to digest what really just happened - it was slightly profound. I appoligize in advance to anyone who finds this to be too much info, just skip ahead. I’ve read all about panchakarma in text books. I've studyed it and even more so took a month long course all about it directly with Dr Chauhan last time I was in India, felt like I had a good understanding of the process. Of course it makes most sense now that I fully understand first hand, an experience that was much different to my last time. My Ayurvedic Constitution is Pitta-Vata-Kapha -pitta was out of balance so the goal was to pacify and lower the fire dosha. Virachana is the treatment of choice. After I drank the full can of thick bitter castor oil, and after I swallowed the tiny rolled up herbal supplement, I waited, and in about 30 mins I started having some action. It was just signs of clear oil/liquid passing through. Then every 20 mins, and every 10 mins…all was just fine I was running to the toilet alot but I knew that was the whole idea. A few hours past, still going as planned…I was pretty much flushing the day away, and then around 6PM I started feeling uncomfortable…waves of nausea moving thru my body…sweating profusely, and quickly becoming weak and tingly. Part of me knew this was the exiting process and it would soon pass, to just breathe through it, and another part of me felt like something might be a problem, like dehydration..and was wondering if this was normal. I struggled for a few minutes with the idea of calling doctors to my room because I was still purging ….but I am so happy now that I did in fact call. Weakly I called and asked for help in roon 102, soon after 5 doctors showed up and checked my BP and gave me electrolytes - I was definitely dehydrated. They also gave me a big soft blanket to tuck into because I was shivering, this alone was like a magic shell of wellness that instantly made something about this uncomfortable situation feel better. They stayed to monitor me and put a bucket next to bed. They said to keep a clear mind, this will soon pass, and it’s working beautiful, nothing wrong and everything was right. This assurance and TLC was enough to somehow keep me in the game. Good thing I had faith in all of this. Interesting notes: I could feel the elements like air and fire (vata and pitta) exiting my body and it was such a strange feeling - could maybe be related to an out of body experience. I was fully present in my body, but beyond my control I was twitching and restlessly moving and rolling side to side like a worm, making noises, sweating like a beast and vomiting, but it was a very euphoric release. It felt SO good. These waves of peristaltic movements were rolling thru my intestinal tract, and it was releasing stuff my body didn’t want or need. After releasing absolutley every single last morsel of anything that could possibly exit - I started to feel better. After an hour of taking in as much hydration as possible - I was better. Just like that - My energy came back and I was hungry. Hard to imagine it lasted 11am-7pm start to finish, I was lost in a healing time zone where I lost track of almost everything except my breath. Deep breathing got me through yet again another intense experience that I can chalk up and kinda compare to the childbirth caliber. The next few days my body has no stiffness what so ever. My energy high and vitality strong. My eyes bright and fresh. Sleeping well during the nights. Skin bright, soft and clear. Digestion robust. No stiff neck. No aches. No pain. No kidding. Spring cleaning in the ultimate sense. Ayurveda blows my mind, the wisdom from the past, ancient healing, and it works. I committed myself to this and prepped my body as best I could, for all of this to happen. My incredible machine received the most enhancing tuneup possible. I am now on the other side and into phase 3.. feeling so happy, and so ready to move on.
Phase 3: Feeling like a Queen
For the past 3 days now I still feel amazing. I feel happy and content and radiant. I feel peaceful and blissed out and cleaned out. Not sure when I have ever felt better. I feel no pain or stiffness anywhere in my entire body. I used to have things that I just assumed were here to stay, but I’m slowly noticing as I move thru the days and thru yoga, they are gone. There are very specific treatments to give the body after what I just did - and this is now my favorite part. There is a treatment called Pizhichil which is a warm oil that is drizzled all over ther body to rejuvenate vitality and strength. The room was literally covered with oil and I felt like I was swimming in this glorious mess. It was hot and the oil was medicated with this ruby red color that smelled so earthy-divine - it melted me fully into a puddle of softness and surrender. The multiple therapists just kept it coming squeezing copious amounts head to toe, each drizzle the right amount of warmth to soothe every square inch with healing glory. It’s also known as “the royal treatment.” It was meant to give to only the King and Queen. I sure felt why, it was a beautiful experience. More amazing treatments have been for my eyes, cleaning out my sinuses with smoke, and head and face massages with herbal potli bundles. Trust when I say I am taking in and absorbing all of this. I am fascinated by the quality of healing, the use of nature, the holistic approach to wellness, the simultaneous sequences that are rhythmically required for healing to happen, and it does - you really are able to feel it. I am getting excited already to add these into my services and offer what bits and pieces I can to others. Today I pack up and get ready for an early morning departure to see my soul sister, Mirelle. My body is feeling 100% incredible and now I’m ready for my mind and soul to take a seperate unique journey, not sure what awaits but I’m ready. Maybe I glimpse God or any of his dieties or Goddesses in Vrindavan, known as one of the holiest towns in all of India (go figure) because it's known that Krishna grew up here as a child. A village like town with over 6000 temples and so holy that people don't wear their shoes, in hopes of absorbing as much blessed God like holiness through each step and through the soles of their feet as possible...sounds pretty auspicious to me. In Vridavan Krishna is God. Since I've already been mistaken for Krishna Carton, I feel like I am off to a good start! Here I come.
Part of me feels like I’ve dreamt this next chapter. Because it feels like nothing I’ve experienced before. This chapter has been an extraordinary experience that has inevitably shifted something within me, I will find out what that is within time. As uncomfortably vulnerable as I needed to be in order to fully take in this experience, I decided to once again fully embrace it all, without any other options. To totally and fully submerge myself into it, because you really must in order to reap the benefits, of getting lost in the unfamiliar unknown. For this alone I feel grateful to my Self that I did my best, I showed up, I allowed, I accepted and I embraced, all of it. This was not easy! I had many urges to leave, but I stayed. I was truly set up to have this glimpse, which was all I wanted, into a very spiritual way of living, inside an ashram, that most devotees only have a window into. Most devotees willingly have chosen to live this lifestyle everyday - having given up all the things that most of us cherish and put first. Myself included. Yet I am someone who hasn’t given up too much other then the commitment and time it took to be here. And from this alone I have gained a lot - a new perspective...or maybe many. New ripples that humble my insides - allowing me to catch and ride a slightly familiar yet new way, new wave of swimming blindly - in an ocean of devotion, right next to God himself, in His home, and with his most loyal people, who believe. At the same time I feel like apart of me woke up from a dream. One where I landed in an ancient civilization, where the people were so evolved they dance and sang blessings all day long, in an enchanted magical forest - filled with songs and freedom. Life filled to the brim with joy, love, and liberation for all. No time restraints, no duty’s other than serving God alone…Also feeling simultaneously like I was a martian, or I was meeting martians... from a far away planet, one so foreign and distant that my every move was being corrected by the people who all watch in wonder about my ignorant ways... wondering why I was so un-evolved, why I hadn't yet prepared myself on how to receive the precious nectar of life, why my devotion and surrendered to God was not first priority, why I wasn't training my mind through every mindful breath to become one with Oneness..Like, what else could I possibly have been busy with that was more important then here?? Despite feeling all the cultural differences and spiritual unknown-ness, part of me also felt an ounce or two of comfort, I was definitely open with curiosity and willingness to embrace each moment - like I was sitting exactly where I was meant to be, with divine timing at my side…like this experience was for my souls primary realization that everything happens for a reason, and this was in my cards. I was here for a reason, this is exactly what I manifested. I got the glimpse. I got the glimpse. I most certainly - got the glimpse. So after the crazy 3 hour taxi ride thru the distressed inner pockets of Indias disturbingly captivating core - I saw things that I will be processing for the next year or two and more. Just wow. I gained an incredible appreciation for my life in that taxi that I thought I already had - it leveled up to a few higher notches - I held my blessed heart so close as I gripped the taxi seat and literally sent out my prayers of gratitude for my blessed fortunate life. It’s actually amazing that I arrived in Vrindavan in one piece…as we barreled down a narrow side street that was covered in construction and pot holes, dust and garbage. There were about 1000 people and 1000 monkeys on this street when my taxi driver just stopped in the middle of the road, turned off the engine and said “Namaste, Done, Radhey Radhey: as in many blessings now get out. This wasn’t my destination drop point and I had no real idea where the ashram was from here, but I grabbed my bag and got out. There was zero english between my taxi driver who I was feeding mints to during our ride. We were friends at this point but time to say goodbye, with a selfie, of course. I had an ounce of hope I was semi-near the right spot and in the distance I could vaguely see someone dressed in yellow from head to toe waving. It kinda looked like maybe it was someone waving at me, but with all the yellow flowing fabrics, I couldn’t tell. I was too far away. I walked closer and started to have stronger feelings it was possibly Mirelle. When we got closer and realized it was my beatiful friend and we were waving to each other. We started running, grabbed onto each other and shared a beautiful embrace. It seemed like no time had passed, not even 12 years. My beautiful friend was just as beautiful as ever - and I realized how much I missed her when I held onto her with so much LOVE. Some people you just know you meet for a reason. The monkey's started to gather around us so we slipped into the back door of the ashram, Mirelle started to show me around. Guruji, Paramahamsa Vishwananda was not at the ashram while I was there - but his presence was everywhere. He was clearly and visibly omni-present, everywhere, in all of his devotees who all take care such good care of the ashram, serving endless offerings to make it all work, all wearing loose flowing saffron yellow fabric and shawls and head scarfs representing their devotion to Guruji, also known as an incarnation of God. One of the first things Mirelle said to me was I was dressed much too sexy for this place and I needed to go cover up (this was with me wearing loose pants and 2 large shawls, one around my head.) We went for a nice lunch, where the food was known to be sattvic and clean for foreigners. It was delicious. We shared food and had fresh juice and took the afternoon to catch up. After we hit up a shop where I tried on lots of indian styles of clothing, it was guaranteed there was nothing sexy about all this fabric draped off my small frame - sexy was hands down not the look I was going for. I wanted to cover up and look as least obvious as a tourist as possible. This was hard. The temperature was about 110° so I was feeling a bit ridiculous and almost to the point of heat stroke under all this fabric but I ended up buying my first real Indian appropriate outfit that was the lightest fabric I could find in the shop. Walking back to the ashram I held Mirelle’s hand (actually Hiranmayi’s hand / her now current spiritual name) and I held on tight because I was feeling legit scared. Everywhere I looked something was near me, horns were honking very closely in all directions, children putting hands in pockets, naked toddlers begging for money, monkeys trying to take anything they can snatch, puddles of muck to step into if not looking… it was intense. After a few days my senses must have adjusted slightly as I staerted doing walks on own, navigating just fine, or at least better. That night, and every night at 6PM there’s something called aarti where everybody gathers in the temple to sing and chant, receive blessings, and have food and a lecture of some sort. After a few days passed it started to feel more enjoyable but it sure was alot to navigate and I wasn’t really prepared for what I somewhat blindly walking into. I am the all star rookie tho for showing up and just walking right in...I had some work to do, or rather I need to tune my frequency so I could sink into this environment...and that didnt take long. I mindfully observed everything and everyones actions and did my best to show all my respect. Everyone was kind and shiny and a real polished bunch of enlightened humans. They included me in all of it. I think most thought I was Mirelle’s actual sister because we've always heard that we look like twins. We still heard that from everyone..and I think this is why they cared so well for me. Mostly everyone spoke broken English and were from all parts of the world. During these aartis and spiritual gatherings I learned that every thing matters, from the left side to the right side, to where you stand, and where you eat Prasad (gods blessed food that resembled playdoh and given after each service / somehow managed to drop mine on the floor day 1 and was told it was still blessed & okay to eat/ can never refuse it *gulp*) three clockwise rotations of the flame to the right, no use of left hand ever, bow down onto floor as you enter temple, shoes off, wash hands with rosewater before you touch anything, nothing set on bare floor - even your feet need a cushion, never walk in front of gurus picture, yell JAI only after certain songs and when you repetitively sing Radha Radha Shyam 1008 times in the front row directly in front of the ceremonial hot ass fire, it needs be loud, throwing only ONE grain of rice into the fire at a time. And only then, will you hypnotically become in a trance like state, with a calm mind that is focused on less distractions. I was learning…thru experience…also quickly learning that Mirelle is a very busy Brahmacharini and has big responsibilities at the ashram. Her days are packed with duties and she really doesn’t have a lot of time to self. That being said, she took me under her wing and made sure I was set up each day. I was staying in her small room in the ashram and tried my best to give her space, but I really had no where to else to go, except into the temple to pay a little respect to Gods home. So I did seva daily which is service to help. It worked out nicely, I really didn’t mind grinding down a hunk of sandalwood on a brick for 4 hours, helping to prep a paste that would be applied to the deities/doll like ornaments, in an upcoming celebration. When my arms were legit numb and I had about 0.2 of an ounce to show for my hard word, I called it a day and slipped out the back door. Mirelle also took the time to initiate me into the very sacred practice of Atma Kriya Yoga, she’s involved in teaching devotees this ancient practice that is used for thoseb looking for spiritual elevation and enlightenment - this is the most amazing gift I’ll now have for life. I feel like this is the reason alone I was pulled to Indian, a true blessing from my radiant incredible soul sister...which left us very little time to not be busy. One of the days I was invited to go visit a temple with a group of the devotees minus Mirelle. I’m glad I went, it was an epic adventure day. We were gone 7am-11pm and walked most of it barefoot. My sweet tootsies quickly became raw and dirty and sore and callused. Keep in mind that I was joining some highly evolved spiritual individuals who all brought their Japa mala bags, no shoes so they could absorb the energy from the holy temple through their feet, and were in a meditative state for about 75% of the day, no kidding...which was really nice actually, no chit chat for the sake of chat. Easy kind souls. We hiked up a tedious mountain to get to the temple, lined with beggars and bodies with all types of sad deformities. Bodies that looked like they hadn't moved in years and were fixed to the ground, only to be as close as possible to this holy location. Saw it all. My legs were shaking from the steep incline to get to the top, to see Radhas temple, Krishna’s beloved goddess wife that all bow to and worship, literally kissing her feet. There were other temples also on the hills in the distance miles away and everyone in the group was keen on going. I wasn’t going to stop the flow as I felt fortunate to be included - but there were times I wondered if I was going to make it! The stone path felt like 400° F which was absorbing the direct heat from the sun in the mid day light, my feet had open blisters forming as I (barely) was able to tolerate the heat. We had to give our shoes up to enter the temple so everyone was barefoot. I seemed to be the only one jumping from stone to stone because it was so hot I couldnt bear the pain...I casually asked others if they thought it was hot too?? I didnt look like it bothered them, and they told me to deepen my breath and ask for Gurujis help, he is there to take the pain. So I tried that method too, hey I made it through. We made it to a few sacred ancient temples, one that had a swimming hole in the middle with ALOT of monkeys whom seemed to dominate the area. They are mischievous monekeys which made them quite entertaining to watch...for hours. Like most temples they come alive at 6AM and 6PM, every day. It was also not well known there was a saint who lived in a cave next to the swimming pit. One of the devotees had heard that he sometimes steps out and will occasionally talk. She was determined to meet this man and she had a feeling today was the day. We waited about two hours, watching the monkeys do cannonballs into the water as we all were sitting like yogis crossed legs and in a meditative state… then low and behold there he was, he came out and noticed us. Somehow we ended up spending the afternoon with this caveman who shared some deep nuggets of wisdom on how to attain enlightenment and joy in this lifetime. He had given up all possessions, had no materialistic things, but did have a heart that was light, you could feel it and see it, shining from within. It was a blessing to be in his presence, listening to his wisdom, watching his ways …which was a reminder that there is more to life then what the mind believes possible, he was proof. Very mystical, just like a Saint. Tomorrow I leave Vrindavan the holy city and head back to JivaGram to take in a marma therapy course for face and body and complete certification afterwards. I’m feeling ready to shift gears and Iearn what I can …more soon!
My closeest encounter yet, with GOD...
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