I hope that this week's update finds you well. It's been a fast week for me! Thankfully, my leg is improving little by little and all is well.
My 200 hour course, (the first part of my training), ends on Tuesday, so I've had some final presentations and exams to prepare for. My classmates and I have been busy to the point of exhaustion.
We were informed that we've been disrespectful to the school's management and teachers, because we are too loud as a group and most of us have slept in on occasion instead of going to our daily 5:45am chanting sessions. We are no longer allowed to talk to each other in the dining hall, which has actually been a rule from the beginning that has been neither followed nor enforced.
We were also told that we are not allowed to laugh, and that any of us could be expelled at any moment should we "misbehave." Basically, we were given three separate lectures on this matter by different management personnel in the span of about 12 hours. It made most of us aware of some major cultural differences for the first time. As frustrated as we all were initially, we are trying to take it in stride and obey the rules more strictly.
That news really put a damper on things, but I've completed and passed 3 of my 5 exams. The biggest one was yesterday and I got really good feedback about it.
I had an experience this past weekend that I'd like to share with you. On Sunday, my roommate and I went on a walk and wound up buying a bunch of bananas on our way home. I was carrying the bag, and when we were a few feet away from campus, rushing back for our afternoon class, a little boy who lives on the side of the road (yes, you read that correctly) enthusiastically ran toward me and shouted, "Banana! Banana!"
He couldn't have been more than 4 or 5 years old.
Having given money to a little girl who asked me for some just a few minutes earlier on our walk, and then taken by the hand by a little boy immediately afterward, who wanted me to buy him something, only to pry myself away from him with tears in my eyes, I was a little jaded. I did not give the last little boy a banana.
When we bought the bananas, we asked for 6 and the guy at the fruit stand who spoke very little English tried to sell us 8. We wound up buying 8, but at a discount: 8 for the price of 6, just 60 Rupees. So each banana was 10 INR, which is equal to only 15 cents.
That night, I went to meditation class and as soon as we were getting centered and mentally prepared, I began experiencing extreme conviction to the point that it made me cry. Why hadn't I given that happy, sweet little boy, who is living the reality of a poverty I can't even begin to fathom, a banana? Heck, why hadn't I given him two? Or the whole bag??
I was confronted with my own character, and disgusted by my choices and by my privilege. From now on, I want to be someone who doesn't hesitate to give, whether it be a banana or the shirt off my back. I found out later that one of the girls in my course brings that little boy fresh breakfast from our kitchen every morning and was so relieved. I'd like to go with her one day.
On Monday I got to speak to her and know her a little better. We wound up spending time together out of the convenience of each being alone at the same place and time. We had dinner together and I told her my plans for working with survivors of sex trafficking. She said that out of everyone she's met in our program, that she is most impressed by my plans. She went on to tell me about her personal history of working in the sex trade, and attested to the importance of spiritual and physical healing through various forms of therapy. It was a great confirmation that I'm on the right path.
The weather has changed over the past week as well. It went from being very cold in the morning and night and warm in the day, to being slightly cooler in the morning and night and very Florida-summer-like-hot in the daytime. I think I'm the only one in my course who isn't complaining and miserable in the heat, but I have a feeling that over the next month the temperatures will continue to rise.
Today one of our yoga classes went on a little field trip. We took a walk down to the beach of the Ganga and held class there. It was beautiful! Afterward, we jumped in and it was SO COLD that I swam to shore and got out as quickly as I could. The Ganga is said to have many healing properties, and you really do leave it feeling different somehow.
Today is also my wonderful roommate's 27th birthday, so tonight a few of us are going to her favorite cafe for dinner. It's so convenient to be within walking distance to everything. I love not having to depend on a vehicle for transportation around town -- anywhere you'd like to go you can just walk. Rishikesh is too large to walk the whole thing, but there are tuk-tuks and taxis for farther away adventures. I've also been on the back of my instructors' scooters a couple of times, and that's a really interesting, exhilarating experience!
Love, light, and a big hug,
w e l c o m e