In the last three weeks I have had the experience of beginning to Receive Lady India. In some of her seclusion and some of her crowds, to some of her poverty and some of her lavish splendor, I can honestly say that I’m grateful to have yet another 2 weeks left. This way I can truly take her further into my senses – into my body, mind, heart and soul, and have her continue to work in me whatever transformational step it is I am here to claim.
I have met some lovely people here in Kovalam. People here who have so generously volunteered their time to make my stay here a little easier. Making phone calls on my behalf, accompanying me to various places (i.e the Market, and the Internet Office), recommending “reputable” restaurants, and giving me walking directions to certain local look-outs. They’ve even instructed me in the very basics of “just say this if you want to be left alone”, to doing sentence-by-sentence translating for me from Malayalam to English and back.
My hostess Pat (originally from the UK), owner of the suite where I’m staying, her assistant Sibi and her cleaning lady Shanda are very kind – being available for anything I need just enough to be comforting, and away enough for me to have privacy. It’s very fair to say I’ve been well looked after, and I’m thankful that my transition here has been relatively smooth.
But the ease of moving into my full-month accommodations after 10 days of sequestered Ayurvedic treatments and counseling (while I’m grateful for the comfort and companionship I have already experienced here), truly fades in comparison to the very visceral impact the very “life” of India is having in me as it surrounds and sometimes even engulfs, this little “bubble” of support around me.
I breathe deep… finding myself drawn-in among “the surroundings of my surroundings”, where my ears wrestle to decipher my thoughts through roosters crowing, cats fighting, dogs barking, automobile horns honking, and people yelling to each other in the streets over Temple Festival speaker systems cranked to full volume.
And in those very moments, as I begin to write… over and over again, I pause.
I pause with the realization about how much I am actually feeling calm, and how my mood or demeanor is far less “led” by my external environment than it used to be. And then I wonder to myself out loud… I wonder how much, even as much as a year ago, I would have “Received” India in the same way?
I remember someone saying to me… “India is to be experienced. You can’t really prepare for it. If you think you’re ready for it, you’re really not. Because anything you think it is, will pale by comparison.” … And it’s true.
You see, I won’t lie… I have had my difficult moments here so far – especially when the intensity of the heat and the work of the herbs I’m taking, kick in. It HAS taken some adjustment for me to be here.
It literally took two, almost two and a half weeks for me to release the edema in my legs, and most markedly to find the most effective way to deal with the ulcerated reactions I get throughout my body, to the mosquito bites. The doctor I’m under care with here (over three generations of Ayurvedic mentoring in his family) finally had to give in and prescribe me some Glucose to assist my body along even though his original directions were for little to no refined sugar while here… So clearly my environment DOES still have an impact on me, there is no doubt…
But I guess what I mean outside of that, is that it seems that the more I consciously choose to “give attention to” my surroundings, and actually allow myself to really “feel” into them with less and less shock or judgement, the more accepting I become that “that this is just the way it is here”… and then the less those surroundings dictate my state of being AND, in honesty, the more it actually begins to serve as a catalyst for resting, and for days on end, exploring and going within.
For now, all I can say so far on this journey is this… India IS an assault on the senses (literally and figuratively) if not also a way of being and an energy that works it’s way deep down into the core of not only our “senses” but also our “sensibilities” about what we think or believe life “should” look like.
This country will hold you hot to the refining fire – and I’m not just talking about the heat… I’m talking about the refining of your thoughts and feelings about the things that we don’t even think twice about – the things that when we’re confronted to being without them, we then understand how much we take them for granted and hold them most dear, it gives us “cause to pause” if not outright stop us in our tracks.
India calls you deep. And if you do not have a practice or a discipline, or a way to center or ground yourself – that isn’t about distraction or re-creating your own familiarities or comforts, India will inevitably, and quickly, find it’s way with you, and you will find yourself tossed by the waves – and I don’t just mean the riptide of the Arabian Sea – quite literally I mean the sounds, the smells, and the energy – everything that is India.