There is a beauty to being a wretched spiritual tourist in India. Key parameters being low budget / wide time-span, you visit an ashram, then hop to a healer, maybe a vedic astrologer and each step you take is also a step away from your comfort zone. This distancing is such a trip that even a slight change in the perception of reality makes you believe that you started to understand. Usually as a baby on the path it is a mere adjustment in your delusion you call ‘reality’, ‘personality’ or ‘knowledge’. Well maybe none of the readers of this blog went through such experiences but it sounds like I am writing about something important when I put it like this.
Hoping to break yet another pattern I let myself experience India in a new way. First I headed off to my second tantric puja. Last year I benefited a lot from the puja on Muladhara/root chakra; it went deep into some fears I have about being in this life. They are not erased after the puja but I feel more free and courageous following this purification. Also a major block against my creativity seems to be resolved. I am blessed in this life with many gifts which do not seem to find their way out of my system. This lack of creative impulse effeced especially projects that are more close to my heart but not so much in line with ‘what needs to be done’ in the institutions of life; such as academia, work, family…There are many reasons to have such a block going beyond the domain of muladhara but the gross force of just starting up and making it work comes from the roots. Right after the puja I found myself manifesting many little projects which I kept on postponing or didn’t even think of before.
Now we are in phase two; purification of the second chakra, Svadistana. Its job is to generate impulses, feelings, and obsessions. According to the yogis water element rules our consciousness as we are made out of and surrounded by mostly water. So, what does it mean to rule consciousness? There is a simple test one can do to understand the concept. If you manage to observe your mind throughout the day, without any intervention, any effort to direct it to a certain thought process, where does it go to naturally? Do you keep thinking about what you have experienced (or not) with your partner, the cool pants you laid your eyes on but couldn’t decide if you want to buy it, the comfi couch and screen waiting for you back home, plans around Saturday night fever, concerns about ‘what the hell am I going to do in this life’, internal dialogues with someone who pissed you off, holiday plans…What are the hotspots of your mind? Are you getting confused between your flooding emotions pulling you in many direction with the long-searched-for ‘inner voice’? Do you feel depressed when you miss the company of a close friend, a good book, a nice concert? The domain of consciousness under svadistana influence is rich; there is a long list. If you manage to purify this domain though you are granted with harmonious emotions and lightness, creativity and imagination as a bonus.
My puja experience was pretty abundant with lots emotional turbulences before and after. Initially I was really afraid of what kind of purification reactions I may have but it ended up being a very smooth ride. My skin is tick now after suffering under conditions below the least level of comfort at Guruji’s house. We started the puja cycle with a group of 101 westerners, ended up with 60 during this experience resulting from the survival of the fittest. The first stage of the puja process was over very quickly after lots of sadhana (spiritual practice) and nice talks among our slowly bonding group. One train ride en masse after we found ourselves in Puri. This is one of the most holy seven towns in India, located at the eastern shores. So Guruji decided to release our dark waters into the holi ocean of Puri. We experienced many magical rituals by the oceans; so powerful that I had to hop on my seat several times. However the trip turned out to be fully in line with the pleasure-indulgent svadistana consciousness. Puri happens to be a very touristic town as well and our group quickly discovered a restaurant at a fancy hotel during our unusually vast free time. Finally I understood what Indian food is really about. When you go to a regular Indian restaurant you may really enjoy the food but still have to admit that all dishes taste pretty much the same as they use the same mix of spices called masala. However I had a major revelation about the potential of evolution in life after tasting those tanduri cauliflowers melting into my taste buds leaving a bundle of joy behind after each bite. How can such a meaningless vegetable evolve to such levels of delight?
We were all very surprised by the gentleness of the sadhana when we were back at Guruji’s house. Of course there was some drama still among the hygiene-sensitive ones, as well as strong purifications such as heavy skin rashes, flu and all. That is the usual fun. As I walk on the path it is becoming clearer; spiritual work is quite a sado-maso experience.
I just met a very kind and interesting Ayurveda doctor. I was already thinking that I couldn’t miss out on an ayurvedic consultation being the perfect spiritual tourist in Rishikesh. Our paths just crossed naturally and I went for it. According to Ayurveda; the healing sister of Yoga, our bodies are just perfect creations and there is no reason for any disease. However our life styles, thought patterns, past traumas cause some deviations in this perfect machine. Our body and soul is composed of the five elements creating the nature; earth, water, fire, air and ether. Ayurveda defines three main constitutions which are basically these elements combined acting upon us. Vatha constitution derives from air and ether, pitta from fire and kapha from earth and water. If all these elements are in balance we are doing great; whenever one or the other gets out of balance diseases and disharmony manifest. Actually we are all born with an imbalance, call it genetics or karma. Then along the life we develop another imbalance due to external conditions, our life styles and experiences. If a person is kapha dominated they enjoy a solid, strong body, calmness of the mind bordering laziness but suffer from annoying amounts of mucus production. Pitta constitution is typically fiery full of life, focus and willpower bordering aggression; whereas vatha are the airy fairies with lots of movement in the body and the mind.
When I was first introduced to these doshas I was certain with all that mucus production during a cold disproportional to my tiny nose I am of kapha constitution. However this doctor clarified the picture; I am born pitta suffering from kapha detoxification throughout the course of my life. That’s what I needed to purify to reach some balance in my system. When I think back of my childhood it actually made sense. I was different back then; very focused and even more fiery. I clearly remember questioning why grown-ups would walk instead of running; it was so much more fun and reasonable to run! However now I can stay in bed the whole day watching n-number of episodes of bad tv-series.
This medical science of ages value spirituality, metaphysics, emotions and thoughts big time. I cannot really take all comments about me from various experts/healers as facts but they still give me a fresh perspective; a new understanding of my life. I can generate more options about why I chose certain courses of actions, what is really happening in the bigger picture. This Ayurveda doctor provided me with some good insights. He suggested that I lived my life like an eagle in a chicken cage from 6 till 17 years old causing these kapha problems. It would probably make great sense as all my friends knowing that I basically escaped to a university in another city to get out of my cage. May that be my choice to be born into a situation like that as the followers of these though systems believe, I have no idea yet why I made that choice. Dr Ram suggested a special treatment called shirodhara during our next meeting. The treatment aims to balance the two main energy channels along the spine; ida and pingala representing the feminine and masculine aspects of our being. Practically I enjoyed lying on a heated bed after overexposure to the mean cold of Rishikesh for an hour listening to some recordings while the healer was pouring some oil on my forehead. The process took me into such a trance leading me all the way back to my birth when I was bombarded by every single sound in the room. These foreign sounds unlike the ones I was used in the womb of my mother were so frightening causing an immediate contraction in me. Spooky process indeed being born in to this world!
Following the session I got my zillion of ayurvedic pills from the doctor before heading home. Dr. Ram wanted to accompany me saying that he goes to visit his ‘lover’ every night. Apparently he is in love with Ganga! Feeling very comfortable with each other as if we were friends for a long time we walked together down the river. I couldn’t attend to his kind dinner invitation with his family some day that week as I was about to travel away from Rishikesh.
And concluding my first Rishikesh adventure; I finally celebrated the new year of 2013 exactly as I always wanted. Every year I have the same dilemma. Acting cool, self-suggesting that intelligent people don’t give a crap about new year, while questioning this attitude while millions of people obviously are in a celebration mood; wanting to do something special but ending up with nothing special at all! This year I was blessed with a soft transition to a fresh breath with Prem Baba, singing and meditating along with hundreds of people in the sangha (spiritual community). Yessss! Conclusion: New Year celebration matters!