Thursday, March 27, 2014

Everything In Between

I started this blog entry over 3 weeks ago. Then I was still well immersed in life in Fort Cochin and wondering what it would be like once we came back to Canada. At that time I started to reflect on my time in India and what were the repetitive themes that became weaved into my life patterns over the last few months.

Being back in North America and focussing on settling in here on Gabriola, I’ve had time to consider.

Time passes so quickly and so much happens each day. My life has been full these past 13 weeks. So many adventures, joyous new relationships, and new faces that will be forever present in my life now. I am becoming more and more amazed about the places I’ve been and how much I have learned!

There is such difference between living in the East and the West! I feel both a Western influence and also an Eastern. I am comfortable in either place. And each place is extremely different! I can be Indian, at times, and North American if I choose. Both fit!

I am recognizing with more clarity polarities in life! There is good and bad, lightness and dark, love and hate, east and west. Polarities are good, and the wider the poles, the better. I don’t see them as mutually exclusive. Polarities comprise possibilities. Between good and bad, there is everything else. Lightness and dark can be defined by the continuum that binds the two together, east and west is way more interesting when we consider what constitutes the meanings of what happens in the middle!

Learning is about seeing a whole picture. It’s about the greyness of what is. Extremes simply present the boundaries for everything that happens in between the two sides! The broader the polarities, the greater the possibilities for choice and diversity.

That is something I have come to realize this year during my journeys in India. We are changing, all of us. That is the fundamental nature of our world right now….change. Some of that change is out of necessity. We have to do something about our deteriorating environment. We have to make changes to the way we live in this world in order for our earth to survive. Many of us in the west are seeking a renewed spiritual deepening because we realize the shallowness of seeking after money and surface pleasures. Indian society is becoming aware of gender justice and changing behaviours around treatment of women and anti-violence measures for women.

Recently, during one of my visits to the Drumbeg Park, I saw a kingfisher bird. I am reminded about the kingfishers that fly all over India. The kingfisher is even the national bird of the country. In fact the local beer is called Kingfisher after the bird! The one I saw on Gabriola was dressed in black and white feathers. In India the kingfishers are colourful and diverse. The same-same but different idea applies. The kingfisher share many common characteristics, and they become differentiated due to where the bird is hatched and grows.

I find this change exciting. All over the world we are coming closer together in harmony. Nature, social communication, business awareness, and sharing of wealth is way more evident than before.

I recently read an article that describes the advancements in developing countries because of the care and support, both economic and personal that more needy communities are receiving from the more advantaged. We are becoming more aware! And some of us are giving generously, of our time, money and energy!

I stated something aloud when I left a young battered woman in the solace and help of a community in Bangalore. “The world is watching India!” I said. No longer can abuse and violence go unnoticed. 

There are many changes. It will not be easy to transition. But it is necessary. The world is changing. We are watching each other now, from the West to the East and everywhere in between, and most of us will do what we can to make it a better place to live! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Seeking Unity

The waves are vigorous and free. They rush against the shore playfully, threatening to reach my toes. I am absorbing the warmth from the sandy earth. I am confident, for now, the waves will not reach me.

We are in a familiar place, a beautiful, quiet beach in Varkala. We were here four years ago during our first visit to India. Odayam Beach is away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristy area of Varkala Beach. We loved it then and sought it out now. It’s heavenly!

So much has changed for me in the last four years! For one thing, Yoga has completely embraced me. In so many ways I feel in unity with my world. My asana practise keeps me on track. With my daily ritual of physical practise I am reminded about the way I want to live my life:

Stretching: Pushing my limits even when I think I can’t go any further. For me, there is no concept of giving up. I set an intention and I keep moving towards it. Patience, tenacity and hope keep me going.

Flexibility: Becoming able to move in ways I didn’t think I could move before. Being open to alternatives and maintaining awareness that there are other ways of reaching the same goal. Letting go of the sameness of how I’ve done things in the past and gently incorporating fresh ideas gets me closer to my original purpose anyway. The more flexible I become, the more diverse my joints can move.

Finding calm: Regardless of my surroundings I am learning to rely on the patterns of my breath. It is mine! It is an integral part of me! It is with me always. I can use its constancy and predictability any time. And I lose myself in the comfort of her rhythm. I can even control that rhythm if I desire.

Bending: Bowing inspires humility. Reaching towards the sky and forward bending towards the ground allows me to give thanks to the sun, the moon, and the higher powers in the universe. Bowing, a sign of reverence and respect is invigorating and inspires my intellect. It helps me to expand the possibilities of  my perceptions and attitudes.

Strength: The more I practise, the stronger my body becomes. My muscles tighten and grow and the ability I feel to move increases. I need to be strong in this world to continue to do my work and the things I want to do. My grownup children, my increasing family members, my circle of friends, and the social health of my community wherever I am in the world all are focuses for my work. Our world can be challenging. There is still a lot of repair needed and there are many deterrents that make the work more difficult. Sustained commitment requires a strong essence. I can practise that and strengthen through asana.

Opening up: When I practise Yoga asanas I feel my body opening up. My heart reaches outward as I relax my shoulders downward. My body feels expansive as I reach out stretching my spine and expanding my limbs. I want to stay open in my mind and in my heart. I want to maintain acceptance and an approachable spirit. In my inverted postures I actually see things from a different perspective. I want to be able to practise seeing things differently always and to stay aware that others might too.

Our teacher, Sajee encourages me to imagine I am in water, floating comfortably and moving with ease as the water surrounds me. I listen, now, to the energy of the waves and watch its flow. The Arabian Sea is vigorous and strong. I don’t understand its depth or breadth and continuous energy! It reminds me about how much I don’t understand and how much more I have to learn! Yoga brings me closer to that.