long time no blog

WOW!

It’s been quite some time since I created these rants and musings. In the meantime I returned to India a second time in March 2006 — same city, same school, different adventures. This time I was able to travel south India a little more, which made this second trip more delicious than the first. And I cried the night I had to fly home….

Got lazy the first time and never posted anything about my first trip, but I can assure you it was life-changing. I have to say that the minute my feet hit the ground in India, I felt like I had come home. Yup, the adepts who told me that I would feel that way were right…about everything.

Once I stepped outside the airport into the very early morning Chennai air, I knew I would never be the same. I stopped for a few minutes and my senses took everything in, as an animal would when you open the door and give it the chance to escape. I had no fear, no trepidation whatsoever to be in a foreign country for the first time in my life, alone, not knowing anyone. I took a deep breath and stepped forward into a place that somehow I knew I had lived in before. Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew, as well as I know my own name. Say what you want about a sixth sense or deja vu or wacky new-age beliefs, but the feelings that would overcome me in certain places in south India during that first month were too strong to be denied.

Give me time and I will re-create some India experiences for you — the temple touts, the beggars, the giggling school children who would run up to me to touch me and then run away, the train rides and the bus rides, and the journey to the heart of yoga.

Since I returned from my first trip there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about India, the way you think about a lover who you know you never should have left….you think about the good and the bad and the things you would have done differently or not at all, but you savor every moment and remember all of it, as if it just happened yesterday….

the official countdown

The countdown officially begins today.

Four weeks from today my journey to the heart of yoga begins. Four weeks from today I step on a plane to travel overseas for the first time in my life. Four weeks from today, my life will change forever.

I don’t want to sound too dramatic, but I know my time in India will transform me. I’ve been preparing for this trip for approximately a year, but I know nothing can prepare me for the moment I step off the plane in Chennai. India will smack me in the face like a wet, smelly towel.

Something has drawn me to Ma India, something more than the desire to study yoga, something inexplicable. More than one emotion is percolating at the same time — fear, nervousness, excitement, love, passion. All those emotions rolled up together like kittens in a basket, piled one on top of another, inseparable; sleeping, yet ready to explode at any moment.

It is like when you meet someone again who was in your life a very long time ago, someone whom you loved and never forgot, and suddenly they reappear. Those initial moments of seeing that person again after so long — fear, nervousness, love — suddenly everything comes pouring out of your heart, and you are drawn, for an inexplicable reason, never to be the same again. You feel that it is a culmination of something, but you don’t know what, and you don’t want to know, because it doesn’t matter. But it is also a new beginning. Hold your nose, close your eyes, jump right in, whatever happens, happens, om namah shivaya…

I’ve been told that my trip to India will be as if I am “going home”. Who knows? Karma is karma, and our past karma works itself out in mysterious ways. All I know is that it is not because I want to go India, I have to go. I must go, at this particular time of my life, there is no question about it. Something deep in my cellular level is drawing me closer and closer and there is no turning back.

let me introduce myself

I’ve always considered myself buddhist — that’s right, buddhist with a small “B”. Buddhists who deserve a capital “B” are the Dalai Lama, Lama Surya Das, Thich Nhat Hanh, people like that. They are the heavy-hitters who deserve a capital “B”. I’m just a little ant at the bottom of the yoga mountain. Hindsight made me realize that I was a buddhist in high school in the late ’60s-early ’70s, only at that time I didn’t know that my beliefs could be called Buddhism (with or without capitalization). For one thing, I always believed in karma, particularly when my friends and I were called “hippie commie freaks” by no-necked acne-scarred football players. You know the type — the ones who would harass you during lunch, throw food at you, then ask later if you could score some pot or acid for them. “They’ll get theirs someday,” I always thought. Karma, what goes around comes around.

I om’ed with Allen Ginsberg at a party (how groovy is that?), and drifted in and out of yoga and meditation practice during my university years. But for some reason, yoga, et. al. just didn’t stick to me back then. Who knows why? Timing, I guess. I wasn’t ready. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. Karma. It was only when I commenced a serious yoga and meditation practice that everything suddenly clicked. It is said that yoga helps you discover or re-discover your True Self. All those books I read what seemed like a hundred years ago finally made sense. All the words from the guru-led lectures I had attended came back to hit me right in my third eye center. The Me That Used to Be finally came back home. I started re-reading all my old buddhism books, and dived head first into my new yoga philosophy books, devouring everything. Now my old/new brain could wrap itself around the Five Precepts, attachment, non-attachment, karma, self-inquiry, non-duality, the Gita. Now I knew why Ginsberg om’ed because I heard it during meditation. . . and it was bliss.

My western astrologer told me that my chart contains some heavy spiritual stuff, things that will not come to fruition until I am past the age of 51, things that will only keep getting stronger. A vedic astrologer told me that in September 2005 (when I will be in India) I will fulfull my desires, and from 2008-2010, he talked about “divine grace”. What does that mean? Who knows? Keep handing me those big grains of salt. I just go with the flow.

So at an age when many people start thinking about what they will do when they retire, I feel that my life will start when I journey to the heart of yoga. Naive? Maybe. Stupid? Possibly. Reckless? A little. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

namaste

no turning back

My yoga journey has officially begun with last week’s purchase of non-refundable Lufthansa tickets to Chennai, India. Such a deal from AirlineConsolidator.com, $1400 RT from Chicago to Chennai. Now it’s just purchase travel insurance, get a new digital camera, maybe some new luggage, get my shots, and visa.

I started planning my India trip about one year ago. I am a yoga instructor and I told my husband — much to his dismay — that when it’s time for me to go to India, I’m going, and nothing or no one is going to stop me. That time has come, and I’m going in September.

I researched various yoga schools and ashrams in India, but nothing felt right until Chicago yoga instructor Helen Snow wrote a story for YogaChicago about her trip to Chennai and her studies at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram, the yoga school of T.K.V. Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern yoga. This is it, I thought, I found my school, and I sent my deposit last summer.

Last summer was also when I saw Helen again. We were in a teacher training together in 2003 at Chicago Yoga Center . When I read her story I emailed her and said “you probably don’t remember me, but….”, and I asked if she could tell me all about the school and her trip. She invited me over, and the more she told me, the more I wanted to leave for India the next day. She told me a few weeks ago that she wants me to try on her salwars that she bought on her trip, so that I can wear them when I’m in India — “my Indian clothes miss India”, she said. By the way, this is my first trip overseas, and I’m going alone, at the fabulous age of 51.

Peoples’ reactions to my solo trip to India have run the gamut of fear and dismay to envy to excitement. Some people think I will never come back. Many people are perplexed as to why I would even consider going: “can’t you study more yoga here?”; “why do you want to go to such a dirty country?”; “you’re going to crap your brains out for a month!”; “you want to see Indians, go to Devon Avenue! (or a 7-11); “are they on our side in the war?” Even people who are regular yoga practitioners have their doubts. But I know this is something that I have to do: at this stage of my yoga life, I know it in my heart and I feel it in my bones.

FearTalk, that’s what I call it. I will have none of it. Some of the suburban women I know have told me, “I’m afraid to go into Chicago, I can’t imagine going to India alone!. Aren’t you afraid?” FearTalk….maybe that’s why so many people live their lives in quiet desperation, to quote an American Transcendentalist.

I’ve been told by an akashic record reader that when I go to India, I will “disappear”. Not literally, but that I will melt into that world as if I were going back home. Who knows? Maybe that explains my visions in meditation of an old woman in an orange robe with long, curly grey hair sitting in meditation on the steps of a temple. So ha. All things happen for a reason, there are no accidents.

So come with me on my yoga journey via this blog. But check your FearTalk at the door.

namaste.