"A man should remain man and yet should become woman; similarly, a woman should remain woman and yet become man. This means that man should cultivate the gentleness and the discrimination of woman; and woman should cast off her
timidity and become brave and courageous"
I invite you to listen to my mantra (I sang and recorded this powerful mantra as I was nestled in the rocks on the banks of the holy river Ganga) while you read today...
I am now just out of the Phool Chatti Ashram for a few hours. Every time I leave I am excited about getting back - mainly because it is so beautiful, the air is fresh and clean, and there is such a family feeling. Today, is a wonderful blessing. My niece Tanya is traveling India for 6 months and she arrived in Rishikesh. We got together for a great meal and she stayed at the ashram for 3 days. I have known Tanya since she is 4 years old and here she is now grown up traveling on her own.
A short update today.
I got to practice Karma Yoga - meaning self-less service giving without anything in return and it was a learning and fun experience. My role has been greeting the people as they come into the ashram, getting them oriented to everything, being a resource should anyone require assistance, (thank goodness for that health food store I brought), leading the Karma Yoga practice during the yoga program (this is cleaning, sweeping and other normal household-like duties), and assisting and teaching in the Hatha and Ashtanga yoga classes.
In addition, I get to manage the library and pick flowers from the garden to make flower arrangements for the tables, office and temple - this is a form of Bhakti Yoga or devotional yoga. Besides being surrounded by beautiful mountains, trees and Maa Ganga, the gardens and flowers are exquisite. Swami G who has been head of this ashram now for about 35 years is an avid gardener. The dahlias are beautiful, colourful and always smiling.
There were about 25 people in the last program. This includes a group of 10 Korean women from a large yoga institute in Seoul who had just arrived in India and came directly to the ashram. They could not speak a word of English, which made my role very interesting - especially the first day.
Their Indian guide did not give them much information about the guidelines of the ashram and had told them to bring electric blankets and heaters. This ashram is outside of town and at the end of the power line. This means....it can not handle much load. We can only use the power in the rooms for small things like cell phone, camera etc....
The use of cooking, electric blankets, heaters and hair dryers blew the power out the first night. The women had just come from the airport direct to the ashram and were so very excited about their vacation...which was to be vacation and yoga. Others that had been staying at the ashram had really been enjoying the peace and quiet adhering to the guidelines and suddenly !!!!!
Being in the ashram is like a microcosm of the world. There are so many nations and cultures represented. I love to observe the interactions and, of course, the reactions.
Suddenly I was learning Korean terms. Hand signals and trying to figure out the language just did not cut it so I decided that if I am really the essence of the divine (and we are all part of that divine) then I can tap into the resource of the Korean language and communication by vibrational frequency. This is what I focused on and slowly and surely things started to change. We became such good friends.
After a few days, we finally figured out that they thought I was the Swami Ji. There were many funny things like that. After, some of the ashram staff started to call me Valma Ji. How funny this all is.
The day before the Korean ladies were to leave the program (one day early) they came to me and said that the big boss Yun that organized the trip realized that this ashram had provided them with much more than just yoga. They had an incredible spiritual experience and she now wants to bring other students from her Korean school only to Phool Chatti, now bypassing the Indian guide and dealing directly with the ashram. I was then to organize and translate the connection for this to happen. My heart is singing with joy knowing that I could be a part of this transformation for them.
It really does go to show that words in the same tongue are not always necessary in the process of personal development.
I love each and every one of these beautiful women. So much fun, willing to learn, growth, change and have FUN while doing it.
We completed the program yesterday with a special fire ceremony. I missed my new Korean friends...especially during photos. It is the closest I get to any whisky these days. They use this term with the peace sign when they get their photo taken.
I was given roses, pineapples, a Korean money bill of $10000 (which is $10) for good luck, smiles and many hugs.
Just a few notes about the yoga program at Phool Chatti Ashram.
I am up at 5am doing my own Qigong practice and then the bell goes at 5:30am. We are in silence from when we get up until 12:30 after lunch. We meet at the yoga hall for silent meditation then chanting followed by the Kriya called Jala neti (nasal cleansing with warm salty water). It might not look pretty but it sure does clean out the nasal passages.
After our morning ritual, we head back for Pranayama (breathing techniques) followed by a Hatha Yoga class. Breakfast is warm cereal with bananas (I am just about to head to the market for more local honey and fruits to supplement this).
Karma Yoga at 10am and 10:30 is our contemplative silent walk in the mountains and to the rivers for bathing, drawing, writing or meditations.
Lunch is served at 12:30 with free time until 3pm. Then it’s Santsang (a gathering to share wisdom and spiritual teachings) for one hour followed by a full-on Ashtanga Yoga class.
Shiva Temple prayer is at 6pm with the gathering around the fire for singing. Dinner is at 7pm. Finally, the evening is capped off with a guided meditation from 8 to 9pm. Yes, now it is time for rest and sleep.
Besides the excitement of the people that I was blessed to spend time with at the yoga program, I was especially delighted to witness the full moon rising above the local mountains surrounding the ashram. My favorite was watching the full moon set over the holy river Ganga. I was sending a special wish to my family when a falling star dropped from behind the moon, cascading along the moonlit sky.
I would say my biggest learning this week has been one of discipline. Being in the ashram and in India in general has turned my focus and attention to Being very mindful about taking good care of my body, mind and soul.
My diligence in taking the grape seed extract and other natural products has helped me stay very healthy. I have seen many others with stomach, head and other ailments that just have not been a part of my experience. Being up early every day, meditating, exercising, and staying focused has been great.
What keeps me going and staying focused living an inspiring life? This quote comes to mind.
"Discipline is built by consistently performing small acts of courage. Will power is the essential virtue of a fully actualized life."
I guess I still have some work to do - I still love chocolate! and other things too. That reminds me of another story.
One day a few of us decided to go for a walk during break time. Randy had been to Phool Chatti before and knew of a beautiful waterfall. I really wanted to see it and tagged along. The walk was high up along the upper road. Anyways, there was a young man in his mid twenties that was walking beside me and was asking questions about energy, the universe and law of attraction. How to practice and really understand it all. We all came to a small place selling chai tea and decided to sit awhile. A few of the folks decided to head back since lunch was going to be served at 12:30 and my friend and I wanted to see the waterfall since we had walked some way. Randy said "oh it is just around the corner." They headed back and we started walking. My new friend was getting anxious to see the waterfall and also have lunch. We walked and walked and no waterfall it was now 12:10. I told him that we had a chance to really put the law of attraction into practice. Where I put my attention, energy goes and results show. "Just relax," I said. I dug around in my pocket and found 8 Rs (not very much but all I had - 40 Rs to $1 cdn) I told my friend that my intention was to get a ride that was 8 RS or free and we would ride in style with class and be back before lunch was served. "How can this be possible," he laughed. A few cars went by with full loads..the next car I put my thumb out and it was a beautiful brand knew SUV. It stopped and we were invited inside for the ride. A chauffer and three other men from Delhi visiting a local temple. Only a few moments later we were also offered French wine in lovely glasses. Now I had not seen wine for some time since it is not sold in the area....our guests insisted. My friend looked at me in amazement and said "I did not expect this kind of style" We saw our friends still walking, as we passed we waved, smiled and held up our glass of wine in a toast. Both of us arrived back to the ashram by 12:25 just in time for lunch. Now that is how the law of attaction and the power of intention really works.
Ok, I am off to the market now to get my beautiful fresh oranges, apples, candles, papayas and other good things for my next 10 days. I will be out on December 26th heading back to Haridwar for one night and then on the overnight train to the City of Lights – Varanasi.
My invitation to you -
Embrace the present
Live in the Now
Savor the gift of the Present
Savor the Journey
and Live each day as if it is your Last!
Merry Christmas to you and your family - have a toast for me.
One last note. Just the other day I was sitting on the rooftop enjoying the warm sunshine. It was Dec 12th and I was thinking about the 12 days of Christmas and a partridge in a pear tree. All of a sudden I heard a cow bell that caught my attention towards the mountain where there is a small narrow road. I saw two cows and a man behind with a beautiful bushy green Christmas tree. I can see the partridge now.
Thinking of you all with love and light. Valma