India: a spiritual experience vs a heavenly destination

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I just discovered Let”s Blog Off – a call for bloggers to write about a specific subject on a specific day.  Today”s subject was, Where”s your slice of heaven?” I”m a little late entering today”s game, but it reminded me of a place I thought would be a slice of heaven, found it anything but, and ultimately decided it was more of a spiritual experience than a heavenly destination.

I”m blogging about India. I went for the yoga.  Mysore is in the southern state of Karnataka. It”s affectionately called, “India Lite” because so many yogis from around the world visit, it”s become somewhat “western-ized” with worry-free dining, spas, laundry, bike rentals, rickshaw drivers, cell phones. Whatever you need is pretty easy to get, pretty easy for India, that is – because nothing is easy in India.

 

 

The yoga shala (school) in Mysore, India. shoes are removed before going inside homes. Coconut truck waits for yogis outside the shala. They chop the top off with a big knife and put a straw in it. Coconut juice replenishes electrolytes like Gatorade and at 10 Rupees each (about 5 cents) it's much cheaper too.

Favorite part? Daily rituals and celebrations expressing gratitude.  Simple things like placing flowers outside their front door to welcome abundance, hanging flowers on scooters to protect them while driving (a necessity) and wives placing a bindhu (red dot) on their forehead to honor their husbands. And the fabric……… One day I”ll go back and buy all kinds of printed cotton for napkins, tablecloths and dish towels and silk scarves to wrap presents in.

 

 

Biggest surprise? That the a-ha spiritual moments did not come from my yoga mat. Those moments came from seeing how I was in India. This is a place to discover how comfortable you are with being uncomfortable, with having no control over anything, with being at the mercy of a culture that has no rhyme or reason.   In yoga, the ability to be peaceful in the midst of sensory overload is called “pratyahara.” India is mecca for mastering pratyahara.

What did I learn? That we live in paradise. If you have nothing else to be thankful for, every morning, bless your “western” toilet, the fact you can drink water out of the faucet without being hospitalized, can walk outside slotscliftourteetry.com and take deep breaths of (relatively) unpolluted air, rules are in place for our safety (stoplights and road signs can save lives!), you can practice your religion (safely), and can walk into a grocery store any time day or night so bright and shiny you could eat off the floor (trust me, you could eat off those floors and be just fine).

And no matter where you are – kindness, acceptance and generosity can create some pretty special moments.  Here online casino are some of mine:

 

Me with Pattabhi Jois and Sharath, his grandson. Guruji (which simply means "teacher" in Sanskrit) was 93 here. He taught Ashtanga yoga for over 60 years and will always be remembered for telling impatient yogis, "practice and all is coming."

 

Animals are all over, wandering the streets alongside cars, rickshaws, motorcycles and bikes. Fortunately, they were friendly. Except this monkey was stealing flip flops at a temple.

 

Typical street scenes. The market. A family riding their bike. Many things in India don't make sense. Like, why does only the driver need to wear a helmut? Kids and moms are fine without.... ? Cows rule here, so they can eat the flowers people place on their bikes as a "puja" (offering) to protect them while driving. Trust me, if you were driving in India, you'd be hanging flowers and little Gods from your bike too!

 

Biggest fear of India was the food. I thought for sure I'd be sick and lose about 20 pounds. Fortunately, I loved the food, and the spices were amazing. Indian women would have yogis over for lunch or "thali" in their homes. Yes, they cook on the floor......

 

No Starbucks in India - but they have Barista and Cafe Day. They're pretty popular with the younger generation and yogis. The laundromat. And yes, they use those irons and did a great job.

 

Another strange thing... Why can boys pee on the side of the road? But, the Indian children are just beautiful.