An Indian Adventure with my Dad
Today has been an emotional lock-down day. I’ve been feeling quite tired and drained, due partly to this huge full moon energy. Feeling pretty unmotivated I decided to sit for a bit and focus on a happy memory, a memory and feeling that would lift my spirits and make my heart feel good. In studying and teaching Patanjali’s first Yoga Sutra this week, I have been returning a lot to my teachers and their teachings, so today, when I gave myself the opportunity, my mind went RACING straight to my time in India.
The sutra we are learning about this week is
Now this is Yoga as I have perceived it in the natural world
This means that if you want to learn Yoga, the best way to do it is to be present in this moment RIGHT NOW. All the lessons and the teachings are right here, right now, if you are willing to be present and look deeper into other beings and experiences. This quote by my teacher, Sharon Gannon, sums it up very well:
“In this sutra, Patanjali tells us that it is possible for any of us to experience yoga and realize the truth, because this truth is available all around us; if we are willing to look deeply into things, we would be able to realize it. Everything is more than it seems. There is always something hidden underneath the surface of a person or a thing, but to discover it you have to be willing to look deeply.” - Sharonji.
If you want a deeper explanation please sign-up to our Online Satsang. We had a 30-minute chat about it on Monday.
In September 2014, I packed a bag, rolled up my Yoga mat and hopped on a plane to India with my dad. We spent two weeks travelling together through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Mumbai. At that point, my dad went home and I carried on to Yoga Point’s ashram, Yoga Vidya Gurukul in Nasik to study my Yoga Therapy course.
From the moment I landed in Delhi, I felt like I had arrived home. From having Gandhiji's face printed on the currency to finding a Bhagavad Gita in the hotel drawer. Seeing the temples and Om signs everywhere was poignant, as was listening to the continuous chanting and devotion wherever we went. Even experiencing the offerings (puja) of flowers and fruit; every moment spent in Mother India saturated my heart and soul in Love and contentment.
We visited palaces and temples, mosques and ashrams. We were taught about the beautiful talents passed down from generation to generation of cutting and setting gems into marble, of weaving carpets, of painting and drawing for royalty. We saw the Taj Mahal where both my dad and I were overcome with emotion and tears. We ate the most incredible food you can imagine and listened to devotional kirtan in most restaurants. We visited the biggest slum in the Southern Hemisphere where, at that time, 5 million people lived. (Just a note: Cape Town has 4,6 million citizens in total). We saw the unbelievable “Dhobi Ghat” - Mumbai’s laundromat. The dhobi men running it are completely illiterate but they’ll never get your order wrong. My father and I visited Gandhiji’s home in Mumbai and learned so much about this compassionate being. We witnessed the 9-day celebration of Navarati, which is the celebration of the Goddess Durga, focused on uplifting the schoolgirl. We saw the kindness of the people who make chapatti and food for all the homeless creatures. We visited an ancient Buddhist temple and homestead cut into the mountain. We road in tuk tuk’s and nearly died with fright at the driving style of the Indian people.
My dad and I had the most remarkable time. Not only because we were experiencing these amazing sights and sounds but also because every single moment was spent learning something new. Because India is so unbelievably different from anything I’ve experienced, my brain was constantly on overdrive, learning absolutely everything I could about this magical place and these phenomenal humans. Actually, it was more like a "remembering" or re-learning of this energy and this place than getting brand new information. I literally couldn’t get enough.
We spent every single moment learning. Every human or animal we met, every tidbit of information the tour guide tossed our way, every pamphlet and plaque taught us something new. In those two weeks of travel, my dad and I saw the teacher and the lessons in every single moment, in every single sight, in every single interaction. We lapped up the learnings and were constantly amazed by the teachings. This, to me, was the living definition of atha yoga-anuśāsanam. Seeing the Yoga in everything and learning the lesson in each moment had us feeling happy and content. It had us feeling enlightened, which is the whole point of Yoga.
Then, I jumped on a train and my dad headed to the airport and home to South Africa. When I arrived at the Ashram, bright-eyed and exceptionally keen to learn, I was not disappointed. We woke at 5 am every day to chant the sun up. Eating was done in silence and we studied and learned with Guruji and Gandharji, practised asana, Yoga Nidra and mind-blowing kriyas (cleansing techniques). For those 4 weeks, I learned and learned and learned. I made friends with amazing humans from all over the world and they contributed to my teachings. I bought 11 kilograms' worth of books at the Ashram shop to bring home with me. I was soaking up the learnings like a sponge.
Thinking of this time of my life brings such joy, happiness and contentment to my heart. I felt like I was home and I didn't stop learning for a moment. This sutra is asking us to experience this learning every moment or every day. It is asking us to not wait for amazing and mind-blowing experiences to find the teachings, but to see the divine in the mundane, to redefine how you see and relate to everyday occurrences. Patanjali is instructing that if you are 100% present in this moment right now, you can not possibly let anything go unnoticed and you will learn the deep lessons as they occur.
In this time of lock-down, where most of us are deep in the mundane and seeing the same "stuff" every day, I encourage you to try and be present. Try to look at your experiences and the beings in your life right now as teachers...try and see the lessons hidden in every single moment. This can take the mundane and make it magic.
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