Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Heat Retreat and Menopause

This is going to be my own personal sequel to Elizabeth Gilbert's books Eat Pray Love and Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. Well, I am out of retreat and still in Tiruvannamali for another day. I am about to do a 3-4 hour full moon hike around Mt Arunachala, an extinct volcano which is one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites in India because Shiva was said to have appeared as a column of of light to form it. Sri Ramana Maharishi was said to reach enlightenment in a cave, which is now a temple on the mountan. I will be heading to Chennai tomorrow in order to fly to Varanasi the next day to attend another meditation retreat with the teacher Christopher Titmuss. I will be travelling with my friend Dave and several new friends met on this previous retreat.

I know I will not have the time or energy to fill you in on everything right now, but wanted to be sure to make some contact. And let you know I am well and continuing to love this journey.

I will start by trying to describe the environment I was in at Anantha Niketan Ashram in Tiruvannamalai. The ashram is on a small farm outside of the city with iridescent green rice paddy fields, beautiful trees to provide well needed shade,  hammocks hung perfectly for napping, papaya and coconut trees to provide fruit, lotus ponds with sublime purple and pink flowers, bright green parrots flying above, cawing crows, an open meditation hall under a tin roof against the rocks, a laundry washing area with stone slabs to beat your clothes against while listening to sheep "baaa" in the farm beyond the fence, stunning nature walks with views of Mt Arunachala and passing smiling local villagers herding their cows, sheep, and goats, brightly painted houses, and flower farms, an echophony (I am of making up my own word here to describe the symphony of crickets, frogs and other insects in the environment serenading you to sleep) of music impossible to ignore, delicious food (well, until the end, where 30 days of eating any similar food will make you crave eating at McDonalds... a gross exageration, but you get the point!), dragon flies and lovely butterflies hovering above, sunny days, light winds billowing to appease the suffering from the heat which was magnified by "fricken" hot flashes that my roommate helped me reframe as power surges, a thatched roof cottage shared with beautiful Jane, who if she was casted in my movie, she would be played by a slightly more elegant, sexy instead of cutesie Meg Ryan with a British accent as the role of Marry Poppins because of her magic bag of potions and lotions for my every need, metal cots with the same material a checkered woven beach lounge is made of with a very thin cotton mattress to sleep on, bucket baths for showers and shared bathrooms with scary giant black ants that hung out on the toilet at night, a small silver snake that I made into a cartoon character in my mind so that it wouldn't freak me out that would drop down from the tin roof of the meditation hall to make her way back up to the tree she lived in just outside the hall, cows with brightly painted horns adorned with fake flowers and bells, children on one size fits all bikes riding past the ashram on their way to and from  school, nemesis mosquitoes that laughed at our insect repellent and buzzing flies challenging your practice, and a few children of workers and visiting from the village to help out in exchange for food that provided constant joy.

If you thought that staying in silence for 30 days was an amazing accomlishment.... (I cheated a little... will explain later)... get a load of the schedule I withheld!!!! 6:00 wake up.... 6:30 gentle yoga.... 3 meals a day, sitting/lying and walking meditations scattered throughout the day/eve, with a daily dharma talk and evening chanting ending at 8:15 and often bed by 9:30! Now THAT'S amazing! I know right? Who am I? But I did it! And it was wonderful. I have to meet someone to go to dinner and then do this walk in 10 minutes so will end here for now with pictures and more to follow as soon as possible!!!! And will reply to individual emails as soon as possible!

Much love to you all!


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