Enjoy the silence.
A week from today I leave for my 6th trip to Ma India, my longest trip yet, 10 weeks. My internal alarm clock goes off and my body and mind start buzzing a week before any India trip. If you’ve been keeping up you already know with whom I’m studying and where I’m going. I think what is making the buzz even louder is that my bones are screaming at me that this trip will not be like any other I’ve taken. It is going to be very different.
2012-2013 will be transformative. Maybe transitional is a better word because I feel like I am a turning point in my life. For whatever reason a whole lot of stuff is ripening, maybe that’s the buzz I’ve been feeling for the last 6 months. As a long-time gardener I am very in tune with a garden’s growth so a sense of fecundity is certainly not lost on me. I recently had an amazing Tarot reading and one of the cards the reader pulled was that of a pregnant woman with a huge belly lying in a pumpkin patch entangled in thick vines…waiting to give birth but feeling like it will never happen.
For most of 2011 I felt stuck, trapped in the tired paradigm of what constitutes yoga in the modern scene, but also trapped in tired paradigms of relationships of all kinds. How to digest traumatic experiences without having them fill our hearts with hate and despair? I experienced despair last year that I have not experienced for a very long time. Buddhi (intelligence) is the function of the mind that digests our experiences by wisdom so that they serve their purpose of growth and renewal.
Fecundity, growth, renewal…see a pattern?
Toward the end of 2011 I came to grips with my place in the Universe. It’s about walking my path alone, shaking people up, turning things inside out and upside down. You best believe I have plans for that when I return. But that’s not an easy path and not always welcome, even in the yoga world.
The Tarot reader said that India mirrors back to me my true self, who I really am, and what I am capable of. She said there are many reasons I am drawn there but a major one is affirmation, people that bear witness to my work in this world. I’ve always said that people “get” me more there than here. Going back to India yearly re-charges, re-nourishes, and nurtures me in a way that nothing else does here. This is the first time since 2008 that I will be traveling alone in India and I am going to relish it — no one’s agenda but my own. Freya Stark said, “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
In her book Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff Rosemary Mahoney describes how I feel when I go to India, a solo woman traveler of a certain age:
I was alone, finally, with no one to protect me. I wanted to sing for happiness — a rare, raw, immediate sort of happiness that was directly related to my physical situation, to my surroundings, to independence, and to solitude. The happiness I felt that morning had nothing to do with the future or the past, with abstractions or with my relationships to other people. It was the happiness of entering into something new, of taking the moments simply for what they were, of motion, of freedom, and of free will. I loved not knowing what would happen next, loved that no one here knew me. I felt coordinated and strong, and the world seemed huge and vibrant. It was a relief to be alone…
My happiness was a feeling of physical lightness, of weightlessness, like drifting on air…
To prepare for her trip up the Nile, Mahoney read the Egypt travel journals of Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale. She writes that she recognized in Flaubert’s notes of 1850 the same kind of happiness she felt. She quotes Flaubert as he witnesses the Nile:
I felt a surge of solemn happiness that reached out towards what I was seeing and I thanked God in my heart for having made me capable of such joy; I felt fortunate at the thought, and yet it seemed to me that I was thinking about nothing: it was a sensuous pleasure that pervaded my entire being.
Mahoney quotes Florence Nightingale’s reaction to a Nile sunrise:
It looks. . .so transparent and pure, that one really believes one’s self looking into a heaven beyond, and feels a little shy of penetrating into the mysteries of God’s throne…
This is the sunset taken from the top of a temple in Rameswaram and just beyond the horizon is Sri Lanka. During that evening in 2006 as I stood at the top of that temple and stared into the limitless expanse of ocean, I began to cry as I imagined the monkey god Hanuman leaping from rock to rock to rescue Sita. Like Flaubert, I also thanked the Universe that I was “capable of such joy.” Such profound joy and pleasure that it indeed pervaded my entire being.
Finally Mahoney describes Flaubert and Nightingale as neither having “any desire to fit the tediously cliched expectations that society had slated for them”; that they both “prized solitude”; and both traveled Egypt during periods of “considerable personal uncertainty and self-doubt”, agonizing “over how they would use their talents and answer their natural impulses.”
I am a woman of a certain age who travels alone, relishing my solitude. After traveling around the sun over 50 times, India was the first country overseas that I visited and if I can never return, I always carry India with me as a talisman.
I also do not suffer tediously cliched expectations gladly.
The wounds and arrows of my misfortunes sneak in sometimes when I’m not looking and I can only tend to them in the arms of the Mother. One way of tending to them is by reading the writing on the wall and acting upon it. The writing on the wall tells me “to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.” I will not die an unlived life.
The last card the Tarot reader pulled was called the Speaker of Trees and it contained a picture of a snake rising up through the center of the tree. The reader said that the card means power, confidence, brilliance, communication of new ideas and plans, everything coming together.
I’m going home to shed my skin.