learning stillness

Practicing every day


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Home Again

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I am sitting in the balcony of my home in Mysore right now. It is 6:45 in the morning and the sun is coming up. I have my coffee next to me, sweetened with a little jaggery and soy milk. The chipmunks in the trees are making a racket. They have this insistent chirp that sounds like a bird, but not quite. Right now there’s a little chill in the air, just enough so that my bare toes can feel it. The smell of burning trash is in the air, a smell that I have oddly come to love and hate. My sinuses are not so happy at the moment, though. Later on today as the sun rises fully, it will become warm enough that many people will call it “a pool day” and head over to one of the two hotels in the area for a dip and some sun.

I will be in a car by then, on my way to Bangalore Airport. On the first leg of the 30 plus hours trip home. Home to my husband and my dogs, my parents and my brother. Home to teaching and working. Also, home to the cold and to Christmas. I am so relieved it will be Christmas time at home. There will be lights and color and sound, which will make the transition from India so much easier. There is always color here, even in the poorest of the places that I’ve seen. There are candles and firecrakers and festivals. I wish Philadelphia could embrace that air of celebration. It feels like… gratitude. Painted on every pink or turquoise wall.

The ladies are just now coming out of their homes to wash their driveways and sidewalks. Every morning they clean the cement, use a broom to brush away the debris and then make their Rangoli. I usually see them as I am walking to practice and it feels like we are performing parallel actions. A daily cleaning, an act of devotion, and all the while knowing it is totally impermanent. My asana today will not last. Tomorrow I will do it again. Same action, different day, different experience.

I have a lot of thoughts and insights that have come from this trip. I can’t begin to articulate them all now. I am so ready to come home and so incredibly not ready, all at the same time.

I found a puppy while I was here. Of course I did, because that’s what traveling to a new place is: an opportunity to see how your behavior changes and remains the same in new and different circumstances. Scenery changes, Meghan remains the same. So I found a puppy. She was probably about 7-8 weeks old and she was crying. I found her on the 8th cross, and I just picked her up. Instinctively. Maybe I should have left her there. Maybe I should not have interfered, because there was no way to take her home with me. Not to my home here and not to my home in the US. (Literally, as it would have taken at least one month to get her the shots a dog is required to have to enter the US and I was leaving in two weeks.) Still, I did pick her up and there is no use being philosophical about it at this point. I made some mistakes in trying to get her cared for. For lack of any better options I left her with a local couple temporarily who are living in a construction site. I bought the puppy puppy food and and I bought the couple rice, water and a few other things they needed. I speak no Kanada and they speak no English and I am sure I inadvertently caused some offenses here and there. There were some attempts to shake me down for money and it started to pour down rain for almost two days, so that solution was temporary and imperfect. Then I housed her for a short time with two amazing yoga students, who were actually taking a puppy of their own back home to the states with them. Finally, she ended up with a local boy who works at one of the water stands. I have left at least 6 months worth of food, gotten her vaccinated and have a friend taking her for the follow up next month. I know he may not be able to care for her permanently in the financial sense, but he is sweet to her, and I hope he will be able to get her to a point where she can at least take care of herself. There are a lot of street dogs here in Gokulam and, of all the street dogs I’ve seen in my life, these are the most well cared for. I have had several serious crying fits over the fate of this puppy. I tortured myself for getting involved and for my shortcomings in my ability to care for her once I did get involved. I have done my best.

I have been thinking about this “puppy situation” a lot. It is sort of a perfect microcosim of how I travel through life. I get attached. I can’t always explain why I get attached to the people, places and situations I am in, but I do. I love deeply and fiercely. I want everyone to be happy, at ease and content. This is a good thing to wish for myself and other. God is everywhere and in everything. I don’t bemoan my desire to help and comfort and serve. But I get so attached to the outcome. I try to control the outcome and manipulate the universe to fit my own designs. However well meaning I may be, it is not useful or healthy. I am limited in my understanding and my vision, so I don’t always know what is best. My friend, Sara, is a brilliant person. I am glad I met her here. She recently found a quote, attributed to Guruji, that roughly said: “You let God worry about the world. You worry about your anus.” It made me laugh, but then it really made me think. That’s exactly correct, and exactly what I have the hardest time doing. Minding my own corner of the universe and letting the rest simply be.

So here’s my prayer as I leave India: “May I remain soft and open, may I continue to love deeply, but may I learn to release my grasp on the outcome of my efforts.”

I still believe, deep in my heart, that serving others is an opportunity to serve God. I believe that the best way for me to do that is to constantly try to re-frame my efforts to make them an act of service and to remember that I am always being offered the opportunity to do just that. It is my attachment to the outcome of these efforts that I need to learn to let go. I am leaving Mysore with that lesson in mind. I am so grateful to have been here. I have met some incredible people, practiced sincerely with Sharath Jois, Dr’s. Jayashree and Narasimha. I have learned and tried to be open. I have made mistakes. I have done my best. I can’t wait to come back next year.

“No effort in this world is lost or wasted; a fragment of sacred duty saves you from great fear.” ~The Bhagavad-GitaImage