12 Dec 2010

Welcome to Omkareshwar!


I couldn't write anymore, it felt like my mind stopped in time and the last week feels like 100 years. I had to re-oganise my thoughts and emotions about everything that has been happening since I got here.

I had been told Omkareshwar was a mind-blowing place but I didn't realise THIS mind-blowing.You can feel the amazing energy from the Narmada river tha surrounds the island, you see ashrams pretty much anywhere you look and people bathing peacefully on every bank there is.
Cows, monkeys, goats, sadhus and people walking all together on the bridge that connects the island to the mainland.
The ashram I am staying in is on the actual island and there is a pathway that goes around it which has the shape of the OM symbol (see picture above). The walk itself is incredibly interesting as you can see small villages on its way as well as some really interesting temples. I haven't taken any pictures yet but this is deiberate. I am not in the mood as I find it a distraction at the moment and I really feel it would not be able to render what the place really looks like.
You can also see water all around, which I realised is what I was missing in Indore. The sense of calmness you get from lakes and rivers is always uncomparable to anything else I find, at least for me.

The trip from Indore to here was good too. Omanand said 'remember this day'. He was right! I can't forget the day we travelled to Omkar as it feels like it's the day my new life started. Sometimes I can't even remember the life I was leading prior to this. It's really strange how we can go on for years and years, knowing something is not right but still going on and then at one point when we do change something in our life we look back and we just wonder 'how did I do that for so long?'. Easy, we just can't see sometimes and although we try different ways to have a new perspective and see things from a distance we simply cannot, unless we really leave everything behind and start assessing bit by bit what was good for us and what wasn't.
I am finding this whole process painful at times, but very necessary. What we thought we loved might actually turn out to be the one thing that was really not good for us or the one thing that was causing the most unhappiness. This is what I find a little painful I guess. Realising what is really not for us and let it go. If you think about it, it's not very easy to let go old habits, places, people and even thoughts. They have somehow become part of us, but as we try to reconnect and dig further and further inside of us, we discover that it is essential to let them go otherwise we can't go forward.

Anyways, we took a local bus from Indore, which cost 50Rs, which I think is £0.70 (that wouldn't even take you from King's Cross to Angel on London buses but that's a whole different story). The bus journey lasted about 3 hours and we were lucky to get a seat. The bus got more packed as it stopped along the way and in the end there people literally everywhere. We even had this little girl on our lap for a while, she was so cute!
The bus driver apparently lied to Omanand and he said the bus would leave us in town but instead it dumped us some 20K from Omkar. So we took an auto rickshaw to town and the drive was SO beautiful. Green everywhere.
Once we got to the main bus station of Omkar, we put all our bags on a little carriage and two guys took everything through the town up to where the ashram boat was waiting for us.
We crossed the Narmada river with our little boat and finally arrived. The ashram here is just spectacular. It's built on the rocks and it's all uphill. It actually reminds me of old Italian towns, especially in the south, all white and lots of steps to go anywhere. I will take pictures of the Ashram in the next few days and show it. It does need to be photographed.
I spent the first few nights sharing a room on the last level/floor with Lily, a German girl that arrived a week ago. The room wasn't anything much but the view you get from the terrace in front of the room is OH MY GOD. You see the river flowing and then forest everywhere. You wake up and the river is there, you go to sleep and it's there and you hear it while you sleep. I love this river.
I then changed room though as I wake up at 5am to do my practice and really needed a room on my own where I could this. The new room is right in Ma's temple and it turns out it used to be Baba's room and it's a room they usually give to important saints (that's what Swamiji Gurusharan said smiling---he has a beautiful and most honest smile by the way). I was so honoured. The room is very special and it's got very good energy, plus there's a beautiful big picture of Ma in it, so I am happy. The room is also next to where all the kirtan takes place, so imagine how even happier I am.

Anyway, just wanted to give a little update of where I am now and how things are going. Once again, I am quite limited with my words to express this all but this is the best I can do for now as I am feeling very overwhelmed myself and am finding it hard to even think. The meditation is definitely working. I am now able to meditate for much longer periods and by the river, which is unique. I started craving for meditation, like I started craving for asanas when I started my yoga years back. So I now meditate any time I feel the need and it feels amazing.

A vey big hug to all of you. 

2 Dec 2010

Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs& Traditions

Omanand lent me a new book today, called Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs&Traditions by Prem B. Bhalla and the following is taken from the preface, which got my attention straight away, as this is how I have been feeling for the last few years.

'Modern youth are in a hurry- to grow up, to acquire education, to work and get married, to own a vehicle and a home and, finally, to arrive. Arrive where? Most youth do not know. Nor do they know their ultimate goal in life.

Those who dare answer will tell you that they are trying to make the best of their life. When asked how, they are not too sure. They are in the run to find happiness. They seek this happiness from the many comforts available in modern society. But too soon they realise the things that ensured happiness yesterday do not do so today. The novelty has faded and everything appears ordinary.

The truth is that mankind is driven by desires, both good and bad. When one is achieved, it leads to another. It is an endless game. Every achievement brings temporary happiness. Every failure brings frustration and a feeling of hurt. Ultimately, one realises the futility of chasing happiness through desires of the body, mind and intellect.

There are millions of living beings around the world. Of these, life as a human being is the most precious.'

1 Dec 2010

Per i lettori italiani, un abbraccio speciale.


La parola vi porta a fluttuare in superficie.
Quando vi tuffate nella sorgente profonda della gioia, le vostre parole diventano silenzio.
Soltanto quando fluttuate, affiora la parola.
Pensate ai limiti del vostro linguaggio. Non siete in grado di esprimere nemmeno la meta’ di cio’ che sapete e sentite nel profondo.
Provate ad ascoltare la voce silenziosa dell’anima.
E allora, anche senza lo strumento della parola detta, vi farete capire in modo chiaro e possente.

Tratto dal libro Shraddhanjali—The Beauty of Loving Devotion/La bellezza della devozione d’amore. Scritto per il ventenario della nascita di Sri Ananda Mayee Ma 1896-1996, Sadhana Ashram, Italy.

Prajna & Mettakaruna: Tiziano Terzani (il bene e il male)

Prajna & Mettakaruna: Tiziano Terziani (il bene e il male)

taken from my special friend Emilano's blog.

Some interesting facts I learned since coming here

Everything has been happening so fast and I am really overwhelmed everyday. I feel like I was born just yesterday and have to learn even the most basic thing, like for example how to eat.
I have been blessed enough to have met someone like Omanand, a sadhu who has been living in India for the past 10 years and who speaks fluent Hindi.
He has been the main source of knowledge for me and has taught me everything---especially the Do and Don't of life in the Ashram.
First thing I learned was NOT to touch a Sadhu. As typical me, I patched a very friendly sadhu on the shoulder when I arrived because I wanted to thank him for showing me where something was. Omanand said later that in India sadhus are not to be touched. It is extremely interesting why they shouldn't be touched as well. It's all about energy and vibrations and because sadhus have renounced to all wordly things and vowed to life chastity and celibacy, it's just not good to be touched, especially by a foreign woman, whose vibrations are very different to the vibrations of local women.
This leads to another thing I learned the first few days I was here. I wanted to help around the kitchen to prepare food and give a hand to the cook, who cooks very nice vegetarian food for quite a few people everyday. Unfortunately I am not allowed to do that though and again it's all about vibrations. It is believed here that when someone cooks he/she will pass on his/her own energy onto the food. The food in this ashram cannot be cooked by someone outside their cast, if anything it can be cooked by someone from a higher cast but I guess not by a foreigner, which I totally respect.
Also, you eat everything with your right hand (yes you understood, no fork and knives here) as the left hand is considered impure because used for things like going to the toilet and stuff like that. So especially when you take prasad from a guru or saint, you pick it up with your right hand on top of your left hand, then pass the prasad onto your left hand and eat it with your right hand, possibly never really touching the mouth and saliva, which is thought to be impure.
When women are on their period they are not allowed to go close to any gurus or saints or temples or in the kitchen.

At first I really had to concentrate to remember all these small things as I felt nervous to mess things up but they have now become almost natural and the funny thing is that I went for a quick meal at a restaurant the other day and when given a fork I had almost forgotten how to use it! I dropped it on the floor and had to ask for another one. I then realised that eating with the right hand is sooo much better.

have a lovely day!

Temperature!

I got temperature today!
I don't know why as it's warm here but I guess it could be because being 'winter' the early mornings and evenings are a bit chilly. Not London style chilly though. I read about the snow in London today and thought how glad I am not to be there. Sorry guys but you know how much I hate the cold weather and how grumpy it makes.
Anyway, I started a meditation practice that Baba gave me. It's very good and for the first time I am actually making some progress in my meditation, which I had been hoping for a while now. It's also good because I can combine my Yoga practice with the meditation excercises.
As I mentioned in my last post, here's some information on Baba (Swami Kedarnath). I cannot describe how I feel when I am around him as it's just very complex, but the first few days I couldn't even look at him straight in the eyes, as his look is so penetrating and you can feel he can read each thought within you... I just found it very scary to be honest. And he can really read your mind. So many 'coincidences' have occurred in which I would normally just think 'well that s just a coincidence' but no!
http://www.srianandamayima.org/abobaba.html

I just read his book in English called An Introduction to Sri Anandamayi Ma's Philosophy of Absolute Cognition (which he kindly signed for me and wrote 'Do not forget Everything is 'in' Ma and Everything 'is' Ma--- which I am finding truer and truer everyday).
The book is quite heavy, in the sense that it requires you to be quite sharp and focused but it is such a great book. It also gives a very good explanation on the essentials of Indian Philosophy, which is good for a reader wo might not be so familiar with the different Indian schools of thought.

Below is a picture of Baba.

29 Nov 2010

Connected again!

We had no internet for a few days so today I finally managed to get my own connection and hopefully I'll be able to write more from now on.
Lots has been happening here and it's all good.
We were supposed to go to Omkareshwar this morning but Baba is not feeling well yet so the trip has been post'poned.
In the meantime I have been doing more reading on Indian Philosophy, Ma's teachings and Hinduism. I can't put the books down, it's all so fascinating and it all makes sense. The more I read on Ma the more I feel at peace. It's really difficult to explain and express what I am feeling but I guess the main news here is that I am really enjoying the spiritual path, and to my surprise I am not rejecting it, like it's always happened in Italy with Catholicism.

I am going to open the book shop now but I will write another post tonight and point out a few links to Ma and Baba, so what you ar reading will make more sense.

In the meantime, I wish you all a great day and send you a BIG hug.

23 Nov 2010

Yoga teaching

I started teaching Yoga to Kanchan, another friend I've made here.
She doesn't live in the Ashram but comes here everyday and takes me shopping and around Indore. She has livd in the UK for a while too.
So this morning we practiced in the hall and I was sursprised at how much I can actually teach! I enjoyed it so much. Looking forward to my teacher training in the new year.
Have no time to write now but just wanted to attach a picture of some flowers I got from Omanand. So sweet.
I feel like everyone can read my mind here, they all know what I like, what mood I am in an everytime without me even speaking.
Good day to all. Hugs, Vale.

21 Nov 2010

Full moon--just taken from the roof terrace.




मेरा नाम है भारती--My name is Bharti

The last few days have been magic. Suddenly everything started taking shape and lots of good things have happened.
Again, I would love to write as things happen but I just don't have the time and I also don't want to spoil the experience by being caught up in writing all the time.
But today I had to write as I now have been given an Indian name by Baba and I feel so honoured.
I did some service around the Ashram in the last few days, which consisted of cleaning the book shop, rearranging some stones around the tree behind the temple and dumping excess construction material outside the Ashram.
Baba started feeling better and came out a lot more, so one evening, following Omanand's suggestion, I asked him if I could be given a name by him.
He seemed pleased and the day after Omanand said my name was being worked on. He said 'you are now under observation' and smiled.
I have been learning so much from Omanand, on a dalily basis. He is so inspiring and peaceful. I feel blessed to be around such amazing people.

So last night Baba came out of his room and said to me 'what is your name?' and I replied 'Valentina' and he said 'and your Indian name?' so I said 'I don t know yet' and he said smiling 'Bharti!'. I was so happy, I love this name. It sounds so nice.
What really made me happy though is what the name actually means. As Sima and Omanand said Bharti is the Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge.

I have found the following: Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, art and music, and wisdom. She represents the creative and inspirational aspect of Shakti.

And the other very good thing that happened is that just a few hours ago Baba was out in the temple again and as soon as I walked in to greet him he asked me how long I'd be here for. I said as loong as I am needed and then I will go to the other Ashram to start teaching. So he said that I will be in charge of opening and running the book shop of the Ashram, everyday from 11 to 12 and from 5pm to 7pm.
I don't know how this can happen but he can read my mind! It's always been my dream to work in a book shop. How did he know??

Below is a picture of Bharti.






I am also attaching pictures of my lovely new friends I have met in the Ashram. They make me feel at home and keep me a lot of company.












Some of the pictures are a bit out of focus because they have been taken by some of the students, who are still learning how to use the camera. They are learning quickly though!

big hug to all.

18 Nov 2010






Quick update---Aggiornamento veloce

Hello!!!!
Just a quick update to let you all know that I am doing very well and have reached the Ashram, but the one in Indore not Omkareshwar yet.
It's amazing and overwhelming! The sense of community here is something I'd never experienced before and makes me question life even more.
We wake up at 5.30am for the morning kirtan session, in which we chant and walk around the temple. It's soooooo energizing!
I will write more a bit later as I've got to go to lunch now but just wanted to drop a quick update to let everyone know I am doing well.
Hope the same the for you. Jai Ma!

Ciao a tutti,
un aggiornamento veloce per dirvi che sto bene e che ho finalmente raggiunto l'Ashram, ma quello a Indore non Omkareshwar. Andro' ad Omkareshwar tra qualche giorno.
La vita nell'Ashram e' qualcosa di stupendo e totalmente diverso da quello che potevo immaginare. Il senso di comunita' che si sente qui e' unico e mi sta facendo riflettere sulla vita e il modo di vivere in Europa ancora di piu'.
La sveglia e' alle 5.30 del mattino, per fare il giro del tempio e recitare i mantra. Da molta energia e l'atmosfera e' bellissima.
Scrivero' con piu' dettagli tra un po'.

Baci e abbracci Jai Ma!

Vale

13 Nov 2010

Bombay Virgin

Namaste everyone!
I got here safe and sound and am very happy. The flight from Rome to London was delayed by two hours for bad weather in London but eventually got to Heathrow and had just about 30 minutes to board the flight to Mumbai.

The flight went well, I slept pretty much the whole time.
Got to Bombay at around 11am the next day and it was HOT!!! Over 30 celsius.

Determined to leave the city straight away I asked about the 'express' train that I was supposed to take but they said it was all fully booked so I decided to go somewhere else first, completely random place I saw the name of on the map I have, why not? I never ever organise my trips so I would have been surprised if I had this time.

I got a tuk tuk to the bus station and the driver was a very funny man who tried to speak in English as much as he could. 'Your country?' and me 'Italy' driver 'ahhhh...Sonia Gandhi from Italy, nice' then he said 'Bombay Virgin?' ehmmm... I guess he meant is this your first time in Bombay so I said 'yes' and he laughed. After waiting 3 hours at this travel agent sort of shop I got on a VERY local bus, where I was the only foreigner! The bus took 5 hours and I reached Nasik, which on the map look s very near Bombay but nevertheless it took forever and I was exhausted.

Everyone has been amazingly friendly so far and I have met lots of locals who have taken me around and showed me many temples. Nasik is a magic place where lots of pilgrims come from all over to bathe in the sacred banks.
I was hoping to attach some pictures but the internet cafe where I am is very basic and I can't connect my camera to the pc but I promise I will upload some as soon as I can.

I've decided to take my time to reach the Ashram and make my way there slowly and very locally by bus. I have not seen one foreigner so far. It seems like I am the only one in this town....but it can't be, there must be some somewhere.... hmmm.

Speak soon.

Big hug to all, in particular to mum, dad, Riccardo and Lorenzo.

Ciao a tutti!!
Sono sana e salva e sono arrivata a Bombay dopo un titardo tra Roma Londra di 2 ore. Arrivata a Londra ho avuto solo circa 30 minuti per salire sul volo per Bombay.
Il volo e' andato bene e ho dormito quasi tutto il tempo.
Arrivata a Bombay ho chiesto per il treno per Indore (quello che ci avrebbe messo 15 ore per arrivare in un paese vicino il posto dove devo andare) ma era tutto pieno e cosi ho deciso di andare un un altro posto, un po' a caso, trovato sulla cartina! mi sono cosi diretta verso la stazione degli autobus e dopo aver aspettato in un negozietto di viaggio in autobus piccolo piccolo, ho preso un autobus estremamente vecchio e lento, su cui l'unica turista ero io!
Dopo 5 ore sono arrivata a Nasik, un posto molto carino dove vengono persone da tutta l'India per farsi il bagno nelle acque sacre qui. Ho conosciuto un sacco di persone carinissime che mi hanno portata in gir e mi hanno fatto vedere vari tempi. Ho deciso che raggiungero' Omkareshwar con il bus e lentamente, vediamo dove mi porta il vento!
Volevo allegare delle foto ma sono in un centro internet mooolto semplice e non ho modo di collegare il pc alla mia macchinetta. Comunque vi prometto di metter su delle foto appena posso.
La cosa curiosa di quesot posto comunque e' che finora non ho visto nemmeno un turista...sembro esserci solo io, ma puo' essere? bo'.

Un abbraccio a tutti in particolare a mamma, papa', Riccardo e Lorenzo.

10 Nov 2010

Details of the ashram where I'll be staying

For those who've asked where exactly I will be.

Dettagli del posto dove saro' per i primi mesi!

http://www.srianandamayima.org/omkarash.html

9 Nov 2010

Omkareshwar here I come!

Yesterday I woke up thinking I should do at least a bit of preparation for day one in India, instead of just showing up as I usually do when I travel.
I had a look at my lonely planet whilst having breakfast and found out there's an express night train from Mumbai to Indore and then I will have to do a bus from indore to Omkareshwar.
What surprised me though is that it will take the night train 15 hours to reach Indore!!! Wow... what better way to start this adventure?
Bring it on! I am ready. : )
Below is a picture of Omkareshwar, one of the holiest places in India, where I will be spending the initial 2 months in an Ashram, medidating, chanting and volunteering with the local kids.


6 Nov 2010

Namaste


Welcome to my blog!
I will be spending the next 6 to 9 months travelling through magic India and this is an account of all my experiences. I hope you enjoy it! xxx Vale
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