It’s really amazing for me to see how much impact the foods that I eat have over me. I have been really strict with my diet here in India, not only avoiding all the foods that I know hurt my belly and rest of my body, but also being more aware about taking my vitamins, enzymes and probiotics, about drinking water, eating a good portion of vegetables everyday, and enough protein from nuts, legumes and eggs. Everyday it becomes more and more clear to me how much even the quantity of food that I intake is now just what I need. I used to keep eating until feeling so full that I was not able to move, and this became a habit, which just increased the Kapha in me, the state of heaviness and laziness. Since I learned to eat only the amount of food my body requires I have more energy, I am capable of being focused for longer periods, I am even more flexible and strong.
And it is because of this lightness that today I surprised myself walking so fast and with such little effort. In a short time I was able to walk to the other side of the town to have breakfast and meet with some friends and then make it back in time for the first day of the philosophy course.
For the ones who know me, you might be aware of how much I enjoy studying, reading, analyzing, sharing, but specially learning about Yoga Philosophy. And this course is about something I have never studied before: the Upanishads, which happen to be the most ancient scriptures on which there are references about Yoga and its practice, so you can imagine how deeply immerse in this course I will be.
In today’s class, Siddharthaji explained that there are three steps to access knowledge: listening, analyzing and experiencing. This made me think about how distorted the society in which we live actually is, where there is no space to analyze, to question. And the root of this deficiency lays in the fact that kids are not taught to be present but the opposite, they are taught to repress that capability. Instead they are over stimulated with many electronic devices, video games, tv shows, and many expectations to be filled. We are under the influence of so much stimulation and we receive so much information that there is not enough time to listen, to pay full attention, to receive every single piece of new information with a mindful focus. Instead, our mind is jumping like a flea, with no stability. So if we don’t know how to listen, how can we be able to analyze, questioning, or even less to turn this information into real experience and reflect on it.
It’s easy for us to find peace when we withdraw ourselves from distractions, it’s easier to see inside and acknowledge of all those habits. But it becomes quite a challenge to be able to find ease under the influence of a world that is running late all the time.
Day 7 & 8
The course on the Upanishads is the real reason why I came to India this time. I have specifically chosen these dates because the course was happening and I have been wanting for a long time to study an intensive course with Siddhartha Krishna, so even if I was only able to come for 2 weeks, I decided to come and take this opportunity!
I have been in intensive courses of asana, immersions of 6 hours per day and even in teacher trainings were there is a full schedule of 8 to 9 hours per day. But I have never been in a course of 4 hours per day of pure philosophy, in this case, Vedantic philosophy. Even if this is about a topic for which I am so passionate, at some point it became more demanding than what I thought it would be. Actually on Monday, I missed the afternoon portion of the course, though I don’t regret it at all. I was feeling so tired, heavy and sleepy that I decided to withdraw myself to my room and do some mental rest. It was a great decision as today, Tuesday, I was able to be completely focused, and actually enjoy every single moment of this course.
It is delightful to listen to these teachings about things which cannot be explained from the rational mind, but besides the challenge of using words to talk about consciousness, wholeness and unlimitedness, the masters play with words in such a mesmerizing way that it makes the listener to start thinking about the experience through questions, stories, analogies.
I feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity, and grateful because there are people like Siddharthaji who shares not only with such clarity but also with joy.
Today, there was nothing which stopped me from being there. I was hungry, but my heart was so full that I forgot about it.
In the evening, it rained before the asana class, but I knew how important it was for me to practice for tomorrow I'd have to be able to sit for another 4 hours, so I kept walking under the rain and arrived sodden from head to toes, put on my dry clothes and practiced with my highest devotion.
I am tired, and feel a little congestion because of the rain and the cold wind. My mind feels overloaded, but a hot shower, a soup and a ginger lemon tea, have prepared me for bedtime. Tomorrow is another day, I hope my body feels as grateful as my heart does and that there are no consequences from the adventure in the rain, but only my body knows.
It was unavoidable, after the rain, the tiredness, my body adapting to new schedule and still with little hours of sleeping, I ended up getting sick. On Wednesday I woke up with a cold, but I still made an effort to go to the philosophy classes. Once I came back to my room I knew I was not only skipping the asana evening practice but I was going to miss the classes on Thursday so I could give to my body the rest it was asking for.
All of our interactions with the world, we do them through the senses, and from them we develop ideas and emotions. Siddharthaji explained about the relationship between the perception and the movement, which started to make sense to me only when I was in bed alone and taking care of my cold. He said that the senses can only perceive something while it is changing, but when the change ceases, the senses stop perceiving, because the senses are meant to notice movement and not stillness.
When I was laying in bed without interacting with anybody, with no conversation, not inner or outer dialogue, for some hours I stopped feeding the movements that create interaction between me and all the people I love and are part of my life. On that moment it was so clear for me why India transforms me so much. But this clearness cannot be explained through the intellectual mind.
Maybe it is because of all the high vibrational energy that has been held in these mountains that open the path to the Himalayas, where so many yogis, sages and rishis of ancient times were enlightened and found liberation, leaving a path of lights for us to follow. Maybe it is because I am completely out of my comfort zone with no luxuries or illusory necessities to which I get used to when living in the western world. Maybe because I am separated from everything and everyone which and whom I am attached to, the things and people that determine my conditionings, that have expectations about me and I want to be approved by them. Maybe it is because it becomes so obvious how little control we have in life about everything. Or maybe it is just because of the sacred energy of Ganga, reflecting in my soul a sparkle of light from which I can start remembering the unlimited ocean.
I really don’t know if it is for one of these reasons, for all of them or none, but every time I come to India, I remember that everything I think I am is just the illusion of the movement on the surface of the light, so suddenly my whole existence as an individual just vanishes, with no sadness or joy, there is not even an attempt of trying to understand, without movement I don’t exist.
Then I come back from this blinking of time, that lasts less than a micro-second, and there is movement again, but I am not the same anymore, I have changed.
Day 10 & 11
After one day of resting and surrendering to deep reflections I came back to classes, with a feeling of disconnection with the world as I know it, but with a strong feeling of connection with something within me in which I feel alive. From this new place it took me a lot of questioning to find meaning again in my projects and being able to keep working on the deliverables and objectives that I put to my own self in order to walk towards an objective or direction.
How easy it is to understand everything with the rational mind, how easy it all makes sense but once we are exposed to our attachments and rejections (Raga and Dvesha), the sources of our suffering, it all becomes blurry again.
The only thing one can do is pay attention, is observe with love, with awareness and with honesty. What are those things which awaken violence in us? What are those things we become dependent of and we have troubles letting them go of? Why do we want to be right? Why do we want others to see the world how we see it? Why do we feel threatened? Why do we feel different from others and always have to compare ourselves with whomever we interact with? What’s the purpose of becoming something or someone?
So after class all these questions start to create a preface in my mind from where more specific questions start to arise: Do I really want to buy a house and have so many possessions and financial chains? Where do I want to live, why and what does it mean? What are the reasons why I like to teach? What impact does it make to the world? How can I apply all this information to make change, to add something to the awakening of the world, to bring peace and reduce suffering?
After some time reflecting on these questions, I have to cross the Ram Jhula bridge one more time, its the crowded weekend and pilgrimage time, when even a small dog has troubles to find space to cross to the other side, so I discover myself forgetting about everything and acting from rage, from desperation, and not able to accept what cannot be changed. I call myself for patience. Sometimes I answer back and a smile comes back to my face. Sometimes I can’t even hear my own call. At the other side of the bridge I look back, and it is there always shining within all the movement, the duality of life.
Day 12 & 13
My Indian adventures are coming to an end! This has been a very particular trip for me, absolutely different from any other time I have traveled to India before.
The first days I was enjoying my time alone, walking the streets, observing, taking pictures and going to practice with Ushaji. Then the Upanisads Course started. From that moment on I was really focused on studying and processing the new information and didn’t really take too much time to share with people, there were very little moments of interaction. I was actually going through a very intense inner journey, so I was mostly in retreat with my own self.
Yesterday was the last day of the course, and I decided to share sometime with my dear friend Lisandro, whom I met the last season in Rishikesh and he became part of the nomad family to me. We walked around the town and played a little bit with asanas, people and photography. At the beginning we tried doing photos with western yoga cloths (yoga pants and tops), but it was too much skin going on for conventional and very religious people. At some point we were surrounded by Indians taking pictures with us as if we were a street circus, so we just decided to not use such a visual distraction anymore and do the photos with a more covered outfit.
The day was starting to become hot and the streets were starting to be covered with dung, so we just were driven to hidden streets inside of non touristic ashrams were we had beautiful experiences. Little drops of magic from people came to us and it helped me remember the essence of this land. The one I will not forget is the magician who took pictures with us. He was walking around and when he saw us taking pictures, he joined us. He might be something between 70 to 80 years old. He was carrying his little fabric bag and wearing a colorful blanket with flowers as a robe. He helped us to set up Lisandro’s lungi while he was doing a hand stand. Once we finish the hardstanding photos, he put all his stuff on the floor and put his hands on the edge of a bench where he performed a perfectly balanced Mayurasana. This was the sparkle of the day, though we had fun all morning shooting in different scenarios, circumstances and with different people.
Today is Monday already, it is my last day in this mystic town, and opposite to be willing to do everything I didn’t do during the previous days, I have been feeling quiet, with a strong need of not moving much. This picture represents very much how I feel about this short trip: we don’t need to speak the same language or to spend a long time to get to experience the essence of each other. Light is here, in the silence that lays on an honest smile.
I have to be honest, the main reason why I came only two weeks to India is because I didn’t want to be away such a long time from my partner/lover/husband. I believe we as humans must be able to create a relationship which doesn’t have to be one entity all the time. I believe we must be able to be apart for some time without suffering, and each one must be able to travel or dedicating sometime to personal projects without the presence of the other, which is the exploration of oneself. But I also believe that this is something that can’t be forced or imposed and has to be built with awareness, patience and understanding of each others feelings and emotions. So right now, I understand that for us, being apart for so long was not a good place to be. This is the main reason I didn’t plan to come for more time. There were other reasons, like uncertainty on finances when I planed the trip, commitments with ongoing projects, and other minor reasons.
For some reason, every time I was asked during this trip why I came for so little I have not been able to give this answer, maybe because it was not that clear to me until now, or maybe because I didn’t want to feel judged. Or maybe because I was judging myself for visiting so little time to a place where I know I require so much time to learn how to breath again.
I am grateful for how I planned this trip, I am carrying many learnings, digesting many changes and I am closer than before to meet again with my partner. We didn’t know what was our next step, we didn’t know where we will see each other again. We just knew that after India it was the time to be together again, but there was no clarity about where. Now we have decided and put all the pieces together. We are going to travel to a place I have always wanted to share with the one I love. I am happy to put together two great sources of joy and reflection: practicing with my ashtanga teacher and sharing the wonderful city of Rome with my love.