I’m smiling a lot here, in Fort Cochin. It is quiet and comfortable with a strong emphasis on Ayurvedic practise and healing and Yoga.
Today, I had a session with an Ayurvedic doctor to see if I can get some relief from pain that I have in my hands and feet. The pain is not new, and I have tried many alternatives for remediation. The concept of Ayurveda makes sense to me. It is the attempt to attain balance between the five basic elements of cosmic consciousness…air, fire, water, earth and ether. These are, similarly, the basic five elements I have studied in Yoga. I get the sense that since I keep hearing about these five elements in different ways, it is somewhat serendipitous.
The appointment began with a quick assessment by an Ayurvedic Doctor. She explained to me the importance of understanding each person’s character. Am I mostly Pitta (fire)? Or maybe I am Vatta (air and ether). Or Kapha (water and earth)? The ultimate quest is to determine which element is most dominant in ones’ nature so the action becomes an attempt to balance the three. We are all born with all 3 doshas and one usually represents a dominant constitution. With Ayurvedic support, we can maintain balance between the three to avoid disease.
I have been reading about Ayurvedic healing and it makes so much sense to me. There is inclusiveness about the approach that comforts me. Yoga, meditation, massage, aromatherapy, essential oils, and natural medicines can all lead to healing. I loved the massage, rich in natural oils. At times, I felt like a squirmy fish sliding on the massage table. Tomorrow I go back for more!!!!
Paul also had a massage, less therapeutic and more focussed on relaxation and calm. It figures…he’s asleep now while I’m wide-awake listening to the sounds of late afternoon. (Do you think that maybe I’m just a little bit Pitta?)
We met a fabulous Indian man yesterday who picked us up today and took us all around his city. He was born and raised here and obviously loves to show tourists around. I liked him a lot! One major stop today was the Jain Temple.
Inside the Jain temple we shared prayer with groups of barefooted men and women. The process for them begins with the ringing of a large bell that hangs from the ceiling. The meaning for the ring says, “I am coming”, and is followed by a walk around the back of the alter and moments in prayer. The final act is another ringing of the bell.
The main concept of Jainist philosophy is “Life is dear to every living being. Therefore, harm no living being.” Jainists eat no living animal. Some Jainists even wear facemasks to avoid the accidental swallowing of insects. It reminds me of some Orthodox Jews who would never eat romaine lettuce because insects sometimes hide close to the core. Janism is one of the most peaceful, life loving, and respectful religions I know.
I experienced another episode of emotion today similar to the one I had in the Hindu Temple in Hampi and also in the Hare Krishna Temple in Juhu. As I sit amongst others involved in prayer, practising unique procedures and chanting in their own language to their own God, I get this overwhelming feeling of spiritual community. It is similar to the feelings I experience when I am in my own synagogue and I hear my community around me praying together, vibrant in song and powerful in joint energy. There is an overwhelming surge of warmth through my body that actually causes me to cry. I’m unaware of the actual reason for it. It is just the reaction to the energy I experienced. Sometimes I even get it during my regular Yoga practise. And I have recently had that same feeling here in India several times in various Temples.
The rooftop of the Jain temple is usually forbidden to visitors, but for some reason, the Shri there today let Paul and me go up. To me it was really special. Masses of birds were flying around the rooftop as I watched the goings on below. It reinforced the Janist belief in life energy and in the equal energetic relevance of all living things. I felt totally exhilarated by the birds flying from the rooftops.
Monticherry is the other significant section of Cochin and lies just over a bridge from Fort Cochin. It is a hub for spice trade from the 15th century to the present. Portuguese ships used to come to the port of Cochin to buy and trade spices. Today we saw sackbuts of ginger, mustard, cardamom, black and white pepper, anise, and so many other spices…some I never heard of before. The smells were natural, vibrant and varied.
Essential oils and aromatic incense shops were abundant too. I wish I could describe the smells that make India so unique and special. Every few steps offering new smells and a new olfactory experience. For me, the smells offer a unique experience in how I relate to what I see. I’m not giving up my patchouli so fast, (probably a disappointment to my children) but maybe Paul will investigate a smell that suits him best.
We bought some cool and colourful clothes today too! And a great new patchouli dispenser for my friend, Maalaa! What a perfect day!