Sep '08 Mysore Highlight

Melting into Mother India
By Anne Nuotio

I have a strong feeling that there is something very powerful about the country of India. The experience is about meeting your real Mother. It is about taking a nap in a huge lullaby. I don´t think I am an exception among the people who visit India who have an extremely strong attraction to come back as often as possible to feel togetherness, love and confidence. When I look at the world map, I feel how India is the lap I want to be on or it´s the heart of the Earth, the pulse, the center where everything emerges. I would like to push those who haven´t yet experienced India to come here to be touched by life, love and joy, because every time I come to India, I kind of wake up to live more deeply and largely in my heart. And every time I go back home I feel that my softened heart shrinks and wants to hibernate. The atmosphere is so much colder, the whole country vibrates differently and the values in the society differ a lot. So, what happens to my heart in India? I would like to share with you my two month journey´s "cardiac" hihglights in Mysore to tell something about this difference.

Why India? For those who have visited India, the answer is self-evident -- India is life itself. It is rich in spirituality and poor materially. It is city life and countryside entwined. It is the perfect contrary to the Western World. That is why it makes you see things differently when you come from a more material culture and a Western competitive way of living. India moves. India moves you. And at the same time it takes rest and makes you relax. Look at the traffic in India and see how people drive, walk, how animals stroll among the cars and scooters. Or be astonished by how cows and dogs fall asleep in the middle of a street and how some people do the same on the sidewalk. At first sight, it looks chaotic, but when you start to live in it, when you become an integral part of it, you can feel the harmony in the chaos. When this happens, you might also feel harmony in the cosmos. Indian people are not afraid, not scared, they just let go and allow things to happen in their own pace. They go with the flow. And I´m really happy it´s contagious!

Sometimes people back home ask me about India: what is it exactly that attracts you? What is India´s spirituality, this quality of life you are talking about, you´re excited about? Why couldn´t you be spiritual in a Western country?

First the spirituality... it´s hard to define in words, because words can only render things we can sense with our senses. Everybody knows that we talk about something that can´t be grasped, that can´t be proven or shown, but it really can be experienced. You can talk about this experience and share it with those who have the same level of their being awaken. It´s nothing outside of you, it´s inside. It´s spirit in you. You start to feel it when your mind settles and becomes silent. To be in India helps also, because other people´s state of mind affects you. And so does their spirit.

I´m sure everybody can feel the same as I do about Indian people: the power that is moving them, motivating them to act, is not egoistic, it´s not about gain, about results, about getting something, achieving a goal. It´s often GIVING even if people are poor. It´s very often about SHARING what God has given us. When I first came to India almost ten years ago, it was difficult for me to understand that these people really want to give. It´s the act of GIVING that is important. It´s not a means to get something in return. Giving is really a natural part of Indian people. I find the Western culture corrupted in this sense that we are told from the very young age to do things to GET something, to give only to get. It´s a deep conditioning in our minds, but it´s high time to get rid of this conditioning to truly improve the quality of our lives and make us happier and better people and also to get connected to others.

When we learn to give without any expectations – give our time, presence, give donations to those who suffer, give anything we can possibly own - a right, a priviledge – it relaxes us. All the yoga students know that this is also about important steps on the path towards our goal: non-attachment, non-greediness. You can learn a lot about giving and sharing by simply living here for a period of time.

You can feel that people in India are not motivated because they would get their needs or addictions fullfilled and because of this situation, their bodies are not greedy, hungry. Their bodies ARE. Very often you can feel this ”peace of body” when you are close to Indian people. The vibration tells you that a person is already fullfilled and gentle and loving. You can also get connected to their peace of mind. And you can feel that many Indians are FREE in their minds in this sense that their minds are not as mechanical as Western people´s minds are. Their minds also ARE.

You can feel that behind the body, behind the mind, there´s something greater that moves all of them and has a great influence on them. That power is spirituality. Almost all the acts generate from the spirit and communion with God and then go back to the spirit. Between these moments, the mind can analyse what´s going on, the body feels it, but they are not the ones who command. The spirit is in command. It´s important to live in this connection to God – the Ultimate reality – constantly. Indian people remind themselves of God in many occasions during a normal day and in many celebrations throughout the year.

The cow is holy in India, because it is one of the representations of God on Earth. My landlady, Meena, prepares food three times a day like many other Indian women with much presence, care and love. One part of the food she puts at the altar to God Krishna. The next day another lady comes with a cow and Meena gives the sacrified food to the cow (God). She explaines with much decication in her heart that as God gives her food and nourishment, she also gives nourishment to God. God doesn´t need anything, but you need this act of giving and of being grateful. This constant exchange and renewed relationship with the whole universe through any of God´s manifestations gives people feeling of belonging. Constant expression of thankfulness gives you a lot of happiness!

Time is not money in India. Thank God! Time is there that you can be present, that you can relax to it, spend it, share it and feel the space in it. That´s certainly one reason why India is such a paradise. Here you don´t live in time, you live in eternity or eternal now. Indian people live though in the Reality, not in their expectations. That´s one reason for the fact that you hardly ever feel any tension in people. And when you don´t have tension, you start to wonder life´s beauty as a child. Every Westerner should at least once have the opportunity to spend a longer period of time in India and to turn everything upside down. Of course, when we talk about Ashtanga yoga students, there´s no other place to go than Mysore. And about the shala to go, you know where to head at...

I can´t help telling you two funny, touching moments in the Apollo hospital. A good friend of mine was hospitalized in Mysore for two days and I spent some time in her company in the hospital. Even in this painful situation, the Indian people could give so much love, so much kindness to both of us and above all, so much to laugh about, that I think we both got healed deep in our souls.

My dear friend was lying down in one of those hospital beds with wheels. A nurse was pushing her towards the elevator and just when the doors opened, around ten people rushed gently in. And very gently the nurse told them to come out again that the patient could fit in. The people got out and we got in. With them. My friend was surrounded by a dozen of curious and smily faces. Some people put their faces really close to my friend´s face and asked: ”How are you?” as if they were her relatives. And we couldn´t help but laughing loud! They were so sweet! No boundaries. We were like a big family.

Another moment in the hospital that remaines in my heart (India memories are in my heart more than they are in my mind) was when I was waiting for my friend to come back from the doctor and started to hear a strange, cheerful Happy Birthday song. It was hospital´s PR Chief who had come to see a new born baby and her parents. He was singing the song to the NEW BABY and urged the nurses to do the same. They sang from the deep of their hearts. Musically, I have to say, I didn´t enjoy so much, but I had hard moments to restrain myself from crying.

I feel only grateful about my stay in Mysore. I´ve had so much that I don´t know how to thank, who to thank. I don´t know words to express my gratitude towards my teachers – Sharath and Saraswati – who work crazy hours, who are aware of everything and everybody in the shala and who just give and give and give. I´m also so full of life and inspiration that Jayashree and Narasimhan have given to me and many fellow students. I could never thank them enough, but I hope I can transmit some of their teachings and I truly hope that there´s no other way for me anymore than give, help and serve others.

Thank you Mysore! Thanks to all the lovely people I could meet in Mysore this time!

Love – Anne

Anne is a Finnish yoga student that just spent two months in Mysore.

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