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.

There was an error in this gadget